The Ponce Chronicles 2022, Part 1

It has begun. Our annual trip to Ponce, Puerto Rico, for maintenance and repair on Casarboles, the home Allysen’s parents built. I arrived last night, but she has been down here for a week already. As I started this (I got interrupted, so it’s no longer true), the sounds of animated conversation in Spanish filled the outdoor spaces. Allysen was hosting a reunion of her middle-school classmates from the years she lived here as a kid. Most of these women she had not seen in over 50 years! They were a great bunch, and Allysen had a wonderful time. I took part for a while, but as most of the conversation was in Spanish, I eventually drifted off to, well, start this year’s Ponce Chronicles.


Prior to my arrival, Allysen and Jayce laboriously prepared the pasillo, or hallway, for painting of the ceiling.

Then Jayce flew home to take charge of the dogs so I could come down. Meanwhile, older daughter Lexi and her husband Connor had their own reunion here, Lexi flying in from Ecuador, where she’s involved in a four-month refugee assistance and training program. They’ve been off doing Puerto Rico things, and I haven’t actually seen them.

In the last twenty-four hours, since flying into San Juan, I have:

  • Driven all over Old San Juan on a circuitous course that looked like a fiendish meditation labyrinth. Allysen wanted to welcome me after a long day by taking me to a restaurant that featured a variety of craft beers. She didn’t know that the address was deep in Old San Juan, where a gnat couldn’t park, or that the restaurant itself would be invisible to the naked eye. We were both too tired to find central parking and walk, so we turned vaguely toward Ponce, while she hunted for other possibilities. Our labyrinth spiraled and twisted ever more hopelessly as we failed to find spots listed on GPS. Eventually we gave up, and by 11 p.m. settled down to macaroni and cheese at Casarboles.
  • Up early today, though, because in an accident of scheduling, Allysen’s reunion party was on for this afternoon.
  • Party over, it was all hands (both of ours) to the paint rollers, pouring white paint upside-down on a popcorn-plastered ceiling. Then—because it’s writ in the laws of reality—I was off to Home Depot to buy supplies for a worker who is supposed to show up at 7:30 a.m. on my second morning here, to begin banging out repairs to something just outside the bedroom door. I can’t wait.
  • We’re also hosting our next-door neighbors, Frances and Che, for breakfast in the morning. That will be fun. Except for the hour.

What am I doing still up? Time enough to post this tomorrow.

I still haven’t seen Lexi and Connor, who are leaving tomorrow. Are they really here?


Boskone 2022

posted in: appearances, cons 0

It’s been two years since I’ve attended a live, in-the-flesh convention. This weekend I’ll be at Boskone, at Boston’s Westin Seaport District hotel, down on the waterfront. Covid rates have fallen dramatically in the area, thankfully. Still, the con requires proof of vaccination, plus masking up indoors, and I am totally onboard with that.

I’ll be moderating two panels on Friday, plus doing a joint reading with two other authors. On Saturday, I’ll be autographing, plus taking part in two more panels.

Here’s my schedule:

  • First Contact Scenarios (moderating) — 18 Feb 2022, Friday 4 p.m., Burroughs
  • Group Reading with Suzanne Palmer, Nathan Toronto, and moi — Friday 6 p.m., Griffin
  • Bridging the Great Divide: Indie and Trad Publishing (moderating) — Friday 8 p.m., Burroughs
  • Autographing — Saturday 2 p.m., Galleria
  • What’s At Stake? — Saturday 4 p.m., Marina I
  • The Future of Astronomy — Saturday 5 p.m., Marina I

If you’re attending Boskone, please stop and say hello!




Generically Yours

posted in: personal news, quirky 4

A few weeks ago, I paid a parking ticket online, through my town’s website. The town thoughtfully sent me an email acknowledging receipt. It began, earnestly and sincerely, “Dear GENERIC CUSTOMER…”

I feel goosebumps just remembering the warmth of the reply, enhanced as it was, by modern software design.

What’s your favorite memory of deeply personal public service?

Not Alone

posted in: writing 0

For the last little while (like, since before the pandemic), the writing hasn’t been going so well. There are probably a bunch of reasons for that, some of which I might elaborate on someday (but not today). All I want to say today is that it’s nice to note once in a while that I’m not alone.

John Steinbeck was a pretty well-known writer-fella. Won a Nobel, I believe. He wrote in his diary, “I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were.” Yeah. What John said.

On the other hand, one of my favorite nonfiction writers is John McFee. Great writer. He once said, “If you lack confidence in setting one word after another and sense that you are stuck in a place from which you will never be set free, if you feel sure that you will never make it and were not cut out to do this, if your prose seems stillborn and you completely lack confidence, you must be a writer.”

There. I feel better now.


Royalty Audit (Dog Fashion)

posted in: quirky 0

Captain Jack likes to go over my royalty statements for accuracy and clarity. Here’s what he thought of a recent one for Alien Speedway.* Fortunately, he didn’t audit the actual check. Still, this is a good argument for direct deposit.

It could have been McDuff. But I don’t think so.

He has also taken to chewing up bills. I’ve told him that you can’t get rid of bills that way, but I don’t think he believes me.

*The typical publisher royalty statement does not suffer much in clarity from being torn to shreds. They tend to be masterpieces of obfuscation even without the mastication.


The Good and the Bad of It

My previous post notwithstanding, 2022 has gotten off to a pretty rocky start in the Carver household, due to some family members going through tough times. I’ll not go into details, for reasons of privacy. But several pieces of (professional) good news have come along to brighten the days, and I want to share those.

The first, I believe, was a lovely review of The Reefs of Time from Scribble’s Worth Book Reviews. They liked the book a lot. On their list of Pros and Cons, they gave it 9 pros and 0 Cons.

The second was my first review on TikTok, by a young man named Anthony Avina, also of The Reefs of Time. He too liked it lot.

The third was a wonderful short review of the Sunborn audiobook, on an internet radio segment called Sci-Fi Bookbuzzes with Bria Burton (scroll down to the little audio player to hear the review). That led to a subsequent on-air interview with PatZi, the host of the parent radio show, Joy on Paper. You can listen to the interview here.

Finally, and the biggest happy surprise of all, was word that I’d received the Helicon Society’s Frank Herbert Lifetime Achievement Award, which I talked about last time.

These things are extremely welcome rays of sunshine.

But I’d trade them all in a heartbeat for things to be better for the people I love.

Helicon Award 2022!

posted in: awards, Helicon Society 6

Happy New Year! I learned today I am a recipient of this year’s Helicon Award—specifically, the Frank Herbert Lifetime Achievement Award! I am excited!

2022 Helicon Award Badge

The Helicon Awards are new to me, but I have learned that they are announced each year by the Helicon Society, “a collective of SF/F authors and other creators who subscribe to the Superversive approach to creating SF/F media and look to promote good quality sci-fi/fantasy…” It is something of an under-the-radar group, with no official public structure; the judges and membership are anonymous. Okay, I know one of them, Richard Paolinelli, a founding member. But the others are unknown to me. Whoever they are, I am immensely gratified that they have found my work worthy of a lifetime achievement award! Thank you.

Here are the past winners of Helicon’s Frank Herbert Lifetime Achievement Award:

  • 2019 – Jack McDevitt
  • 2020 – Anne McCaffrey
  • 2021 – David Weber
  • 2022 – moi

I am delighted to join their ranks.

See the recipients in other categories here. Congratulations to all of them!

Merry Christmas, 2021!

Wishing all of you the happiest of Christmases! It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? Time for some quiet contemplation and good cheer, whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus as we do, or simply a good time to gather with people you love. Wishing blessings on all of you! Here’s our simple hearth for this year. Make me feel warm just to sit in front of it.

By the way, thanks to all who have asked: Captain Jack is doing great, following the surgery on his jaw. He looks a little funny, but his energy and personality are back full strength!

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