Sunday, June 26, 2011


My kindle has a kind of decorative screensaver, where the faux ink pulls together and forms itself a soft picture, usually of an author. (This isn't specific to mine, I'm sure.) Sometimes the pictures are of other things. Like the typeset of a printing press. At least, that's what I think it was, and that's what I told my three year old son it was when he asked.

I said: the person puts the letters and numbers in this box, and then the person puts ink on it, and then the person presses it against a piece of paper. And then the person repeats that, until we have a book.

And that's when my son fell in love with the printing press. Kids these days, what with their whiz-bang gadgets and their whippersnappin' Playtendos (shout out to Cobra!).

Today he asked me to show him more pictures. I googled printing press and showed him a couple dozen machines, modern and antique, automated and painstakingly manual. He asked how they worked, and I pointed out the things that I recognized. Paper reels. Gears. Levers. I don't actually know how any iteration of the press works, so I made the process up. It might have involved steam power, hobs and alien technology, which may have made it slightly more exciting than the real thing. I'm not sure.

Earlier tonight, my son mimicked setting type and printing a book, which he then presented to us, carefully pointing out and describing the pictures and telling a wonderful story of a small hob who works on a printing press. I think it was magic realism, where the object of the story is telling you the story of the story. Or something.

And I wonder, how many printing presses will be around when my three year old is my age? How strange is it that he learned about the printing press by seeing an image on a electronic reader? How disappointed is my son going to be in his mother when the zombie apocalypse comes along and, as one of earth's last survivors, he decides to start printing books to tell their story, and finds out I made the whole process up?

These are the things that keep me up at night.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


On Friday night, we found the skull of a baby griffin...

On Saturday night, we sailed a fleet of red velvet pirate cupcakes...

Can't wait to see what Sunday brings.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm revising. Well, I'm about to be revising. Right now I'm performing triage on the edit letter. Later, I'll lather my arms up to the elbows in toner powder, don a mask, and perform surgery. It won't be major. Setting a bone here. Extracting a tooth there. Tying some ligaments in knots so my patient will fall when he tries to walk. Just kidding. That would be a hypocritical disavowal of the Hippocratic Oath - not that I've taken it. I'm not a doctor. I just nod when cab drivers ask me if I am, so that I can hear all about their gross medical conditions.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Revisions. My last revision was MAJOR. We're talking Worf's spine replacement in Star Trek TNG. Serious stuff.

This will be more like the game Operation. Some anxiety and mild jolting but nothing, you know, deadly.

I hope. These could be not-so-famous last words.

What makes you twitch when you're revising?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I'm on a mini-vacation. Just a few days out of town, living out of a single, rolling suitcase in a single, hopefully not-rolling room. (We had a nice little 5.2 earthquake on Thursday, so I'm a little leery of, well, the planet right now.)

I have a row of miniature products all lined up in the bathroom which, because they are just smaller versions of my regular products, make me feel as though I've contracted adult-onset giantism, but without the changes in proportions.

We're in Seattle, and I actually brought my camera this time, which I've mostly forgotten on every vacation for the last ten years. So, if I run into anything cool, I will be sure to share. (There are rumors of naked bicyclists. That, if I am forced to witness it, will not be shared. I just...those parts should not be exposed to those seats.)

What's your favorite destination for a quick retreat? The Sahara? The cabin by the bug-infested lake? Home alone?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Our neighborhood is fairly mundane. Small, single-family homes with small, single-family yards. However, the houses on average probably hold five kids. We have one. More than a few have none. The others are making up for it. When the school bus stops here in the morning, the spawn of this neighborhood (a single street, and not terribly long) take up about 2/3s of that bus.

Into this copious abundance of children are drawn a particular creature: the mobile ice cream truck. I used to think that ice cream trucks were nice, probably because they weren't around where I grew up. What's not to like about someone driving at pedestrian speed past your house, delivering creamy, iced treats without a mercenary markup? I'll tell you what: these dudes are vicious. Territorial as lions and vicious as sharks.

The first truck I noticed was blue, and playing an instrumental version of Under the Sea (from Disney's The Little Mermaid) in eardrum-splitting range. He had sole reign of the neighborhood our first year in the house. The next year, two more trucks showed up - a white one and a red one - speeding into the neighborhood to avoid detection, then slowing and blaring their own music. One was a festive rendition of a Mexican folk song, the other a kind of jazzed-up march. I rather liked the second. They'd creep about, until the blue truck arrived, and which point they would speed away.

The incursions went on for the better part of the summer, after which there was a lull. No ice cream trucks, no music heralding their arrival. After about a week, the blue and the red ones returned. It's been two years, and they still patrol the streets daily, though never at the same time.

Based on the rudimentary evidence at hand, and a certain street smarts I've cultivated over the years, I believe that the blue truck called a meeting under the guise of developing a schedule within which all parties would be allocated territories and time slots. And then he attacked. White truck obviously didn't make it, but red and blue struck a deal. If red would help hide the body, blue would allow it some market share. I never saw anything in the paper to support this, but it's clear something happened.

I wonder sometimes if white truck left someone behind, a widow with a lantern burning in her window, waiting for her brave but ultimately very gullible spouse to return.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The weekend is nearly here, my dears. Pat yourself on the back if you made it through intact. If not, gather your dropped pieces in a bag, throw them on ice, and pray you run into a doctor sometime soon. *Imagines streets filled with people wandering aimlessly, pushing wheelbarrows or pulling red, aluminum wagons, small human flotsam and jetsam wriggling in ziplocks*

Anyway, in celebration of the weekend (and with a hat tip to the mighty Margo Lerwill) I offer you a few timely drink recipes. Bottoms up.

Cross Party Vote
1 part bourbon
1 part Coke Zero
sour mix

Summer in the City
2 parts red Gatorade
1 part vodka
garnish with strip of discarded newspaper

The Kindle
1 part vodka
2 parts 7-Up
(layer grenadine and midori in a shotglass next to The Kindle, but do not add to allow Kindle drinker to drink)

The Long Goodnight
2 parts gin
1 part muddled mango
lime juice

Midnight Sun
an 24-pack of canned beer
a pickup truck
a river

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


How do you start your writing day? Do you sneak in an hour and a half before your world wakes up? Grab ten minutes here and there throughout the work day (also known as ninja-writing hi-ya!)? Do you only write on weekends, or practice the ancient art of BIC (butt-in-chair) every day, come hell, high water or reruns of Firefly?

I write at night, after the day job, after the kid has been fed, watered and put to bed. After the flowers have been addressed and the cats have been attended to. I might do nothing but trim and polish. I might waffle over a couple of hundred words. Last night I laid down 1,700 words. That's a very good writing day for me.

How do I prep my writerly brain? I wake the laptop, grab sustenance (usually popcorn and water - it's not as dire as it sounds. that's what I choose), let Pandora do its thing and play a game of electronic mah jong solitaire. This allows me to shake off the crap the day has dropped on me, and helps me to focus. If I can't focus after that, then I'll email someone, clean something or - if I'm in a particularly bad way - work out. Then, repeat the earlier steps. If I still can't focus, it's because Something Bad is nagging me, or because I'm too tired to actually fire up the brain. On those nights, such rare nights, I'll drag a book to bed and let it sing me to sleep.

How do you do it, folks? How do you write

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Kid got a little out of control tonight. There was an interrogation, then a mention of zombies. I tried to calm him down with a little light reading. He wasn't having Dr. Suess.

Count Zero, by William Gibson

Bloodshot, by Cherie Priest

And yes, those are Thomas the Tank Engine PJs.