Category Archives: Life Log

05 Oct

Process neepery: my all new morning schedule for writing (did he say morning?)

I’m somewhat known for being a night owl. In the past my productive hours have been from 11pm or thereabouts until 3am. No one bothers me, nothing interesting is happening, I just put my head down and write.

Well, now I’m a morning writer.


This doesn’t mean I get up with birds chirping and wide eyes and enthusiastically tackle what I’m up to with a grin and a cup of coffee.

First off, I’m not allowed to have any stimulants due to my heart. It’s a drag, but my last bottle of caffeine happened in November 2008. I’ve been clean since then. It kinda sucks.

Secondly, I still hate mornings. This morning while eating breakfast outside the local coffeeshop Emily looked at me and laughed. “You’re not enjoying the beautiful morning at all, are you?”


Okay, so let’s back it up. A year ago I started tracking my sleep patterns with an app on the phone, and then when I got a new FitBit Charge HR, it started giving me intel automatically.

At the time, Emily was teaching at a school that was a fifteen to twenty minute drive away and had a very early start time. The twins were going to Kindergarten. So I was writing from roughly midnight to three, then they were getting up at five thirty or sixish. I would wake up at noon. But I was struggling with being tired a lot still.

What I found out after studying my sleep was that the whole family getting ready for an hour would wake me up just enough to disrupt sleep patterns for an hour or two, then I’d fall back asleep after everyone was out of the house. I was actually losing 1-2 hours a day to this. So I was getting 7 hours a day, maybe less if I stayed up later to really jam on writing. My app and FitBit were guessing that I was averaging 5.6 hours a night.

I would crash on weekends and basically sleep all day.

Emily recently changed careers to come join me running the various things I do. I guess I haven’t mentioned it before. But so far, six weeks in, it’s been great to have her pitching in. There are so many projects I could use her help on. This means that we were able to enroll the twins locally, to the school just a couple blocks away. A germ of an idea occurred to me over the summer: a whole new schedule change.

Knowing that I was losing a couple hours a day had been bugging me. So I decided to pivot everything into a morning schedule. I’d tried on in the first few months of 2014. I went to bed at 12-1am, I got up at 9-9:30 and I wrote until noon. It had been very effective until it fell apart due to exhaustion. I now know that’s due to those ghost 2 hours of little sleep.

I decided to wake up with everyone.

So, starting on the first day of school I set my alarm to get up with the kids. Because, walking them to school on the first day, how could I not? We got ready, shared the bathroom, ate breakfast, all together.

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They were excited to be able to hoof it.

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Like an alcoholic taking a last drink before their first AA meeting, I’d stayed up late the night before.

After walking the twins to school, Emily and I took the poodle out for a continuing walk, swinging through town near the local coffee shop and then back home for a full mile’s walk.

Once home I sat down at the computer and got to business. I worked until noon, then took a break for lunch and touching base with Emily about the day. After lunch, I turned to my freelance work.

My first day of that was August 31st. It’s been rather effective.

For one, I begin every day with a one mile walk. So I’m getting my exercise in right away and getting the cobwebs out of my head. No matter what else happens, I’ve seen my kids off to school, gotten a hug, gotten a walk. There are worse ways to start a day.

Secondly, by writing when I get home right away I get the other really important part of my day out of the way: writing fiction. Usually by 10am, I feel like if the rest of the day exploded into uselessness, I’d still have walked and written. Thus: I win.

Combined with my social media break and GTD approach to email I’ve been more productive than I ever have been. And importantly, consistency productive.

But is it sustainable?

I don’t know. I’ve been aiming for 7 hours 20 minutes of sleep a night minimum. I’ve been failing that here and there, but last week I had a string of 8 days in a row of 7.5 hours of sleep minimum, which is really good. I’ve been getting into bed between 11-midnight. I have fallen down a few times. Twice when company was over (I’m social, I can talk all night), one of those times I stayed up until 3am. I was a mess the next day and felt hungover for 48 hours after. My FitBit helps, it vibrates on my arm at 11, reminding me I need to turn in. If it wasn’t for that, I’d never realize. I do feel very tired around midnight now, which is new, but I’ll still accidentally power through that easily if I don’t have alarms to remind me to go to bed.

The hardest thing has been to fight my desire to ‘stay up and push on getting things caught up on.’ I’m juggling more work in my professional life than I ever have. Fitting it all in has been challenging. But with this schedule, I feel like I’m starting to get caught up (I’m certainly right on track for this current novel deadline) finally. But I still, each night, have this old instinct to want to just stay up and power on.

But I am forcing myself to leave things undone and just trust that the schedule will catch me up.

The morning schedule also solved a problem I’ve always had in the past: working while traveling. While in Baltimore I was up each morning before eight and getting my writing done before I was scheduled to be speaking. If I keep protecting my mornings I expect a boost there. I’m also getting up early on the weekends and not sleeping in, then working on projects for a couple hours.

This is week 6 of the new schedule.

In the past, I was never able to make mornings work at all. I spent six years trying to make this happen when at a day job. I spent my mornings unable to get my brain to speed, and I scheduled all important work and focused on getting things accomplished in the afternoons knowing that I’d barely be able to answer emails.

But we change sometimes. I often experiment with changes and track the results just to make sure I don’t follow old habits blindly. In this case, my morning routine seems to be lending itself toward better results, while my productivity in the late hours was falling off (I have records and charts that show this). How productive? A 60% boost in daily average word count and a 40% boost in rewrites and copy edits.

I still find the late hours conducive to creativity and take notes and drum up ideas in the hours just before bed.

So, crossing fingers this holds for the whole year…

28 Sep

Baltimore Book Festival Recap

I got back late last night from Baltimore where I was the SFWA Guest of Honor. This year Sarah Pinsker took over running what I’m told is a constantly growing tent with what I saw was a great list of running panels and interviews.

Fran Wilde, the author the recently launched and great read Updraft, interviewed me about writing, sailing in fiction and much more.

The panels were a great deal of fun. I got to meet YA author Justina Ireland and catch up with Rosarium’s Bill Campbell, who’ll be turning Arctic Rising into a graphic novel series.

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Bill and I also snuck off next door to Baltimore Comic Con which was going down to walk around and check stuff out, as well as catch up on what was going on.

One of the panels I was really impressed by was Mike Underwood and Sarah Pinsker’s show ‘Dangerous Voices Variety Hour’ where they gave away prizes for audience members who guessed the right answer to science fictional and fantasy trivia, let the guest authors read some quick fragments of their work, and also got the authors to try and guess answers to win the audience members prizes. It was fun.

Double fun because I got to do the panel with Diana Peterfreund who is a great writer I’ve followed online for a while and enjoy reading. I wish we’d had more time to catch up, but the panel was fun.

Another fun moment was sneaking out with Scott Edelman Saturday night to go to Vacarro’s Italian Pastry Shop in Little Italy, where we caught up with each other. Scott was the editor guest instructor at Clarion in 1999 when I attended.

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I got to meet a number of new folks like Emmie Mears, Anna Kashina, KM Szpara, catch up with others like Keffy, Annalee Flower Horne, Bud Sparhawk Michael Underwood, Tom Doyle, Karen Burnham and Anne Gray. Met Anatoly Belilovsky again, who I met at Nebula but had forgotten (so sorry, man). I grabbed some interesting dinners, and hopefully didn’t say anything too silly.

John Appel gifted me with some locally made dark rum for the trip home, and helped me get to the airport after I was only able to spend 15 minutes at the last panel:

My thanks to Sarah Pinsker for all her organizational work and making sure I got to where I need to, Summer Cullen of the festival for travel arrangements, and all the sponsors and organizers of the Baltimore Book Festival for bringing me in.

18 Sep

Scotch Review: Highland Park 12

A couple nights ago I suggested to my friend Brandon Rhodes that we hop in a car and go to the nearby small city (big town) of Findlay to hit up a state liquor store as I was out (gasp) of scotch. Which made me very sad, as I usually have three or four bottles of what I consider mid-range scotch in my liquor cabinet that I enjoy sipping around the edges of.

Highland park 12I picked up a bottle of Highland Park 12, which was new to me. However it is on my list of scotches to try that I’m slowly working through over the years as I go to liquor stores. I don’t know a ton about scotch but I enjoy trying different ones out. We all need a hobby, right?

The Glenrothes is my favorite scotch, hands down and bar none, I adore the hell out of it. But I have a place in my heart for smoky, peaty scotches as they’re the scotches that first taught me that scotch has a variety of tastes. They can be overpowering, like trying to drink a campfire, or a leather shoe, but that lends to the fun for me.

So to me the Highland Park 12 has some smokiness to it, though it’s not as strong as an Islay. When I tried it two nights ago I wrote: ‘peaty, but mildly so. More… smokey with a smoothness [is it blended?] and a sweetness that balances the peat. Other professional tasting notes mention a ‘honey’ and ‘heather’ sweetness that goes along with the peat and smokiness.

It’s more challenging than a basic blended scotch, but it’s not a Laphroig or Lagavullin.

I drank it first neat, then I switched to two ice cubes and a more generous portion. I found that with some ice it really became a flavorful scotch and might be one of my favorite on the rocks scotches.

All in all, a good catch. I’m not sure it’ll end up being in my cabinet as a ‘must always have on hand’ like Laphroig, Lagavullin or Glenrothes, but I found it really good.

01 Sep

Some things I’ve learned after eleven days without social media

On the 21st I mentioned I was going on Twitter vacation. I’ve seen a few articles from people who go on social media diets. They come back from down the hill to with their wisdom.

-The most obvious effect is that I’m a lot less distracted. I have ADHD, and I wrote about my last productivity hack on the blog (4 Hacks I’ve Used To Focus Harder While Writing on a Computer), but declaring I’m off social media publicly, while logging out of it and deleting all apps from my phone… has boosted productivity more. I’m super booked up right now, so this has been nice. I’m not wondering what’s happening because I know it’s not even a thing.

-Although productivity for my freelance and writing work is boosted, I only have so many ‘golden hours’ a day where I can throw myself at work. I’m not a machine. Twitter wasn’t using up all of those. Logging in to special working desktops let me partition out things over the last month or so. But I was flipping through twitter a lot in my down time. So I’m finding that, even though it’s only been 11 days, I’m redirecting my down time. I’ve managed to fit in more reading, which is good for the creative soul. I’ve started to blog more. Instead of responding quickly on twitter I’m storing up observations and making notes of them.

-Dragging back the time to read a book was awesome. I listen to a lot of audio books, but I was falling way behind on eyeball 2.0 reading. I wasn’t *not* reading, but I was way slower than I like. Getting two books read over the last 11 days feels more like my proper place. And those books gave me lots of ideas and fed into the ferment from where I will draw future inspirations.

-I can’t entirely escape social media. People who direct message me go into my inbox as I don’t want to miss those. That’s meant logging on to reply, albeit fast and briefly.

-Most people following me on twitter have absolutely no fucking clue I declared a twitter vacation or that I’m not on twitter anymore until October judging by the @ notifications unread number I saw when I had to log in quickly to respond to a piece of writing business.

This last one is the one I find the most fascinating. Right now I’m talking to writers and a ton of people are under the impression that it is *required* that we get on social media.

I keep saying ‘don’t do things you really hate doing.’ I say this to writers of all stripes because I truly believe the following. a) if you succeed at doing something you hate doing, you’re then stuck doing it, if not more, from then on. If you want to do something you hate doing, there are probably more lucrative things than writing you could grit through. b) if you hate it, I think it eventually comes out or shows through.

When I told one colleague about my plan to take a 2 month break, they were like ‘woah, man, that could be dangerous, you need to keep a presence!’

Sure. Maybe. What I also need to do is write more novels. In fact, that’s my primary mission.

But the fact that everyone missed my announcement, and talking about this break, and so on, indicates just how fucking full of static twitter is. You’re following so many people, who’re tweeting so many multiple times a day, that people have to post multiple times and risk annoying followers just to remind them that they have something important to get out (see book launches, etc). And then, even then, afterwards people will say ‘what, you had a new book out. I missed that!’

And the kicker is, I ended up having more of a presence on twitter by getting off of it. Because I wasn’t on twitter on the night of the Hugos batting reactions back and forth, when I saw the ballot I wondered what the alternative non-Puppy ballot was and quickly pulled it together. That link got 12,000+ hits on it, almost all of them from the link shortener

Which is to say: twitter.

I’m not leaving twitter forever. I will finish this current spate of deadlines. I love and miss you all and I will be back.

In the meantime, drop me an email. Or if you have my number, text or call me.

I’m still here.

31 Aug

Adventures in Unbearable Pain

On Friday I was going to write about things I had learned since declaring a social media vacation the week before, but was experiencing stabbing pains in a very delicate area and wasn’t in the mood.

Saturday chimney repair people came. Emily (and I’ve been helping) has done some remodeling in the house to put down new floors and we found that our chimney was leaking and rotting a piece of floor. I repaired that but we got a chimney quote. That was expensive, but due to higher than normal amounts of rain, we were lucky to get a person in.

While driving to the hardware store to get a new downspout and some screws I experienced pain so intense I drove off the road. But it ebbed ten minutes later and went away.

I took a nap mid afternoon as I hadn’t slept well, and woke up in so much pain I bolted upright gasping right out of deep sleep. Dizzy, I stumbled into the hallway and with gritted teeth told Emily I wanted to get to the ER. No ifs ands or buts.

Every little second of kids getting ready and Emily getting keys seemed to happen in slow motion. I scared the kids a little writhing around in the passenger seat. Jumped out of the car the moment she got me in front of the ER. Step step step, pause and hyperventilate, step step.

The admitting nurse asked a bunch of questions and told me to breathe slowly, as my teeth were so gritted she was worried about me passing out.

Once admitted, they asked me what I thought was going on and I guessed ‘kidney stone?’

“Who diagnosed you?” I was challenged (I’ve had doctors get a bit snippy with me sometimes about that).

“No one! You’re the medical experts. You diagnose me, you’re right, I don’t know what this is, I just want the pain to stop,” I hissed.

They gave me some pain meds and lots of fluids. I watched trashy TV with Emily (a good friend came over to the house to watch TV with the kids while I was in the ER).

Because I had no lower back pain at all they were not sure, so I got a CAT scan. Into the Stargate machine!

Back in my room, settled in, fully full of fluid, I ended passing a largish kidney stone while waiting for scan results. I wasn’t expecting that, there may have been a yipping quick scream or something along those lines.

The medical staff were super excited and so happy. Like, big grins. They retrieved it for a lab, the nurse showed it to another nurse and everyone agreed that yes, I had been most likely in quite a bit of pain and that, yes, it was a kidney stone.

The doctor rushed into the room like it was Christmas. “We just saw it on the cat scan!” he said, and took a look. “Yes, that’s it, we just saw the picture of it and here it is!” The ebullience in his voice and big grin made me think he was going to high five me. I was surprised cigars were not produced.

I came home, had some scotch, passed out at 9, slept twelve hours or so, and spent Sunday lolling around playing video games.

How was your weekend?

21 Aug

Twitter Vacation Until October 15th

A long while ago, I read some very good articles about the impact of news.

See, news works on us by making us anxious. Six things under your sink could be killing you! Turn it at eleven. You won’t believe this horrible thing that happened that could have been to someone like you! If it bleeds it leads.

I’d seen the effect that had on people who consumed heavy media diets. My stepdad’s grandmother in Florida, once she was unable to get out of her house much (and in pre-Fox News times) consumed so much news. When I, a geeky underweight nerd, traveled with family to Florida I found that she kept leaving the room whenever I walked in. Turns out that since the only thing she’d seen about ‘teenagers’ was them robbing or beating up people that she was terrified of me.

A diet of constant alarm and fear puts you into a state of fight or flight. I drastically curtailed news shows, media, and such and began to engage with news extremely carefully and mindfully. Began focusing on deeper dives into topics if I was curious.

I do dearly love the water cooler aspect of twitter, and I learned a great deal from so many people linking and explaining important experiences to twitter over the last years. However, the media part of social media means that bleeding leads. I’m not going to bang on about ‘outrage’ culture, that’s not what I’m getting at. I love twitter. It’s a tool. I’ve been on it since 2008. It’s not about that. This is a problem that’s as old as any media. What I’m getting at is that we click and pass on stuff that scares or horrifies us much more than other items. It’s simple human nature, just like more of us turn in to scary news than happy news. We focus on bleeding for leading, always have. And because of the social aspect of social media, it’s been delivering things that I used to engage with more mindfully in a way that is a bit of a firehose.

Right now, I have a tight deadline, and a larger than normal amount of freelance work to do. I’m noticing that social media is fine when I have a lot of emotional energy to handle and negotiate my media intake, but when I’m stressed and overworked my ability to handle it goes down. And when that happens, I’m over flooded with horrible news that’s important, but since social media has so many vectors and ways to deliver fearful news to me, it generally takes away energy that I need for doing my own important work because I have to engage, think about how to react, dig deeper, or move, which often doesn’t work because I then have guilt about either not signal boosting or grappling with something.

This isn’t about people sending me things on twitter or disagreeing with me or anything, it’s just about constant heart-breaking stories being linked that take energy out of me.

So, out of simple self preservation, I’m taking a cleansing break. I’ll be taking it until the middle of October.

The bonus? I will be blogging. And my blog posts will auto post to twitter.

I will not be reading @ replies or twitter. DMs will come to my email, however I won’t be getting on twitter to DM back, I’ll likely just email. You can always email me on the site!

Twitter has been uninstalled from my phone, bookmark deleted from my computer for now.

Ironically, I’ll be using more dead media to make sure I’m not uninformed, and doing more reading during this period. Just in a carefully controlled way so that I’m able to keep a balance going that does not lead to me feeling drained, and figuring out where I can invest my energy best.

As a result, I may even end even up blogging a bit more.

07 May

Bocas Lit Fest 2015: a brief recap with pics

I was invited to be a guest at Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad, which is where I headed off to last week.

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The folks at Bocas put together a whole Future Friday segment, featuring Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Lord, me, and RSA Garcia. Karen and I did an all day workshop for writers interested in spec fic from the region.


Here we are during lunch break (photo via Bocas Facebook Photostream page):


And this is what it looks like when I murder a roti quickly at lunch before returning to the workshop (photo via Karen Lord’s Tumblr):


Later that night the Chilean Embassy hosted a reception. Highlight of that was getting to meet and shake Derek Walcott’s hand and gush a little about his work. I tweeted about it, but a dearth of response on twitter made me realize that most of twitter feed needs a brief recap of why that was epic for someone working from the Caribbean perspective.

Derek Walcott, via wikipedia:

Derek Alton Walcott, OBE OCC (born 23 January 1930) is a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature.[1] He is currently Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex. His works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros (1990), which many critics view “as Walcott’s major achievement.”[2][3] In addition to having won the Nobel, Walcott has won many literary awards over the course of his career, including an Obie Award in 1971 for his play Dream on Monkey Mountain, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, the inaugural OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature[4] and the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize for his book of poetry White Egrets

Here’s a photo of Mr. Walcott from later in the week:

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One of the other highlights of the reception was getting to meet Naomi Jackson, a NYC-based writer with deep Caribbean roots. Her first novel is coming out soon:

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The attache for Suriname spent a lot of time trying to convince me to explore the Dutch Caribbean a whole lot more.

Here’s a random shot of the view of Trinidad I saw from breakfast at my hotel each morning:

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Oh damn, the food y’all. The south Caribbean, down-island, is responsible for the first 10 years of impressions of my life. Down island food and culture is so home.

I got to eat roti, beef patties, plums, and real calalloo (the green stuff below):

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Childhood comfort food, all of it.

One of the truly amazing things about this event was all the Caribbean spec fic writers in one place. At breakfast, Jacqueline Stallworth of the Lit Blog The Big Sea took a photo of Karen, Nalo, me, and Tiphanie Yanique (photo from her blog):

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That’s the first time Tiphanie and I’ve seen each other since high school. We both went to All Saints Cathedral School together, same class. Now here we are so many years later, both working novelists at Bocas Lit Fest.

Life is wild!

Tiphanie’s work has a strong sense of the fantastic (Nalo asked her if she minded being tagged as Caribbean Speculative Fiction, and Tiphanie pointed out many American reviewers seem to ignore/pass over the magic in her stories, but that sense of the fantastic is an integral part of a lot of Caribbean literature [something I keep pointing out to folks in the US who seem to think it’s some kind of discovery for Caribbean writers to be interested in the fantastic. No: it’s been there for as long as long can be])

Future Friday kicked off with a panel by RSA Garcia, Karen Lord, me, and Nalo Hopkinson where we talked about the above. The history of Caribbean fantastic traditions, our own work. Shivanee Ramlochan, a Trinidadian poet and critic, who interviewed us (and me earlier for the Spaces/UWI podcast) was an amazing moderator, and had done so much prep work before meeting us that the panel was amazing.

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After the general panel we each did readings and q&as, RSA Garcia and I had Lisa Allen-Agostini moderating ours. Again, her questions raised the panel to a fantastic level. Not the usual ‘where do you get your ideas?’ sort of thing, but detailed questions about the nature of our work and how the region influenced them.


Karen and Nalo reading and panel with Shivanee:


The Bocas Lit Fest streamed photos were all taken by Marlon James. No, not the Jamaican author of that name, but the photographer. Some of the photos were amazing, so later on in the week Karen Lord and I ended up doing an impromptu shoot with him as we thought it was too amazing a chance to pass up.

Here’s Karen in front of the lens:

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Hopefully I’ll get the permission to post the photos Marlon took of me, as I want to use them for the PR section of my site. They’re really cool.

I also attended a reading by Naomi Jackson (aforementioned) and Tiphanie Yanique, and later got the chance to go out to a rum shack with Marlon and many of us writers of the fantastic. It was fascinating to catch up to Tiphanie, if not a little intimidating as she remembers the utterly quiet, withdrawn me of high school who was quite unsocialized. It’s the closest thing to a high school reunion I’ve ever had. But way cooler, as Tiphanie is doing work that is awesome and it’s fascinating to see that we both got into the arts, even if via very different directions.

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Karen Lord and I took the opportunity to head out for dinner and skipped some of the programming later on as I was too exhausted and wanted to be able to turn in early (a rarity for me, but being on deadline ahead of this event and meeting so many new people and doing so much meant I got overtired rapidly).

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It was great to sign some books for some new readers. Even cooler to sign books for long time readers who were excited I came to the island, like this guy:

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Books Lit Fest culminated with a poetry slam with a TT $20,000 (about $4,000 USD) prize. That was epic.

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Pretty soon it was heading back home, exhausted. Nalo and I were on the same plane, and said our good byes in Houston.

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I came home with a bottle of El Dorado (Guyanese Rum) 15, and a bottle of Mt. Gay (Barbados) 1703 Extra Old. And books, of course:

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And then I shaved my winter beard. Because:

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I have a million emails and to dos. So that’s my recap. Thank you to Bocas Lit Fest for bringing me down. I met so many people working on great things, and promoting Caribbean literature. I was welcomed and encouraged, which is always meaningful. Any time I get to read my own work on Caribbean soil it’s emotional. And I’m not an emotional guy. But it means something. And the readers there get a lot of references and things I’m doing in my work that reviewers in the US don’t. So to hear people ‘getting’ it, laughing in all the right places, or gushing about things that I worked hard to slip in, that refuels the tank.

Thank you.

11 Apr

I Now Have a Pair of 6 Year Olds

Six months old in the green editing chair in my office:

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Six years old in the green editing chair, about to be taken out to the curb on the morning of their 6th birthday.

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Man those five and a half years went by quickly.

If I were super hip, I’d keep the green chair and keep taking pictures of them in it every year until they were thirty, and post it, and it’d go viral.

But the chair needs to go to the curb. We got it free somehow, and it’s served its purpose as my office editing chair well, but I have a way more comfortable one now.

Also, their birthday cakes, for the win:


The young lady who did the cakes got all excited about making sure Thalia’s had some graphics b/c there was no already-existing vampire stuff for kid’s cakes like there were for Hello Kitty, so she spent extra time doing this. Everyone was curious to hear about the story of the vampire birthday cake for the young girl at the grocery store.


27 Feb

Thank you, Mr. Nimoy. Your portrayal of a mixed race person had a big impact on me.

It’s not often that I am struck by the passing of a celebrity. I don’t often feel I need to weigh in. I certainly don’t feel like I had any special connection to that person. Certainly when celebrities that are in the common consciousness who are my age pass, I feel the shiver of mortality, but that’s usually it.

But the news today that Leonard Nimoy had passed had an impact.

I wasn’t a devoted trekker, or trekkie, or what have you. But Spock was one of the first times I saw a living example of a pro-science, pro-rational point of view in a character on a screen who wasn’t the evil scientist.

It was the first time in my life I’d seen a protagonist, a hero, be like that. Spock had a huge impact on my nascent scientific world view, giving me permission to explore a scientific worldview. It took a long time for me to go all in on that, but he was the first that made if feel it was safe.

I’m probably not alone in geek-dom there.

But where Spock really hit me in the feels was when I encountered more about him in occasional re-runs and some of the books.

Spock was half human and half Vulcan. Humans took one look at him and ‘saw’ Vulcan, and coded as such. And Vulcans ‘knew’ he wasn’t really Vulcan because of his invisible human-ness.

Spock was bi-racial. But he didn’t look like a half-human half Vulcan. He coded as Vulcan.

For someone who looked white, but was bi-racial, that had a huge impact on me. Spock was the closest thing I had ever seen in my life, even to this day, to a role model. As a kid, it blew my mind. There was Spock and that was it as far as ‘light not white’ me.

Spock struggling with trying to be accepted by Vulcans and humans, both sides of which kind of pushed him away a bit. That hit me in all the feels. Spock finding his own path, being just awesome as himself. Crewing with a bunch of people who all looked different than him and being down with it. Putting up with being teased for being too rational with calm and equanimity.

Yeah it was all fiction. Cardboard props and bullshit.

But telling a story about a possible path helps.

When I was a kid I was smart enough to be clever. And as John Scalzi famously noted, the failure mode of clever is ‘asshole.’ I fell into some of that. Wanting to be the Dr. House mode of smart, dismissive of stupidity and willing to push through solutions because of your own smarts. And I apologize to all those I hurt while trying to be clever.

As I got older, I realized I wanted to be more like Spock. Smart, but hard-working smart and with genuine warmth. Yes, he’s cold rational. But he’s not rational in the ‘toss you out the airlock’ way. He’s rational in the ‘dies to save the crew even though they’re not as smart as him’ way. He used his intelligence as a tool to try and create a universe that they could all be in. He made friends out of a diverse crew on the bridge. He was even close friends with the womanizing asshole of a captain that ran the ship and who had to often bail out of trouble, because even Kirk had good qualities and challenged Spock to broaden his experiences and grow as thinking creature, to see other modes and solutions, adding to his abilities.

He chose not to reject either side of his identity, but embrace them and synthesize something new out of them (yeah, I know not all the media were perfect about handling this aspect, but seeing it exist at all, when people like myself were/still are invisible, was water in the desert for me).

So, thank you Leonard Nimoy for playing Spock. And for bringing that person to life. Thank you for a great life lived, and continuing to engaged with all the people that loved this thing.

I will do my best to live long and prosper, and to try and always be a friend. There are worse things to try and live up to.

Addendum: I was pointed out this amazing article where Mr. Nimoy writes a letter to a dispirited bi-racial woman in the 1960s who was struggling, and found common ground with Spock.

Now I have double the feels knowing that he was aware of this and wrote letters like this.