Microsoft, suspected agent of Morgoth, once more hosed my laptop with a major Windows update. What is with this company? Don’t they test their frickin’ software before they frickin’ release it? Apparently not. But the good rings have saved me! A full disk backup from April restored the usability of my computer, and Dropbox and Microsoft’s own One Drive saved my data. (Let me tell you, though, restoring my inbox to its former glory was no fun. (I still have about 5000 unwanted emails to delete. The backup service on that saved too much.)
Yesterday was my birthday, and I turned 10, in dog years! A big milestone, though I don’t feel a day over 5. If you’re wondering, that translates to forty-nine-plus, which is the age I magically became fixed at, oh, about “plus” number of years ago. It’s great! You never get old. But you can still get the senior discount.
We had a lovely cookout with my family and a few good friends. The weather was great, the margaritas were great, the company was great.
My daughter Lexi painted me a landscape, based on a photo by our cousin Mike Sherrick, of farm country in Wooster, Ohio. This is where my mother, Mildred Sherrick Carver, grew up, though the farm depicted in this painting is, I believe, down the road from the old Sherrick farm.
The other big gift was almost too heavy to lift. My loving wife Allysen, her mom, and her brother and his family, all pitched in to get me this gorgeous 6-inch Celestron telescope. (There’s a story behind why this particular telescope, but that’s for another day.)
So, the last couple of weeks were pretty hard, with my brother’s passing—and thank you all for your kind thoughts and wishes. Now I’m trying once more to get up a head of steam. The Reefs of Time launches in just three weeks!
What I’m focusing on now is proofing and correcting the print edition of Reefs, and yes, this is getting close to the wire. (And any corrections I make that are not just formatting, such as bad hyphenation, uneven spacing of justified text, and so on—meaning word or punctuation or italicizing corrections—all those have to be copied into the ebook and the source file, as well. It’s an incredibly finicky business.)
Due to unavoidable scheduling conflict with my brother’s memorial service in August, I have canceled plans to attend Worldcon in Dublin. That hurts, because I picked the launch date specifically to have the book out in time to promote it at Worldcon. Well, family first, and no regrets about making that choice; I just wish it hadn’t happened. And I mean that in every possible sense.
Okay, this 460-page book isn’t going to proofread itself. See you later.
Charles S. Carver left us yesterday, after a long and often painful struggle with cancer. The academic world and the University of Miami lost a world-class, distinguished researcher in social psychology. Countless people lost a dear friend. His beloved wife Youngmee lost her husband. And I lost my only brother.
The final battle came on suddenly and unexpectedly, and we initially thought he would pull through it and recover. But that didn’t happen. Chuck wound up in the ICU on life support, and after several days on life support, when hope for recovery was gone, he was allowed to slip away peacefully. Youngmee was at his side, along with my wife Allysen and me, and several members of Youngmee’s family.
His professional accomplishments are legion, and he was awarded the American Psychological Association’s highest award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions “for significant theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of goal-directed behavior and self-regulation.” His publications include ten books and hundreds of articles, and his work has been cited an astounding 120,000 times in scientific publications by other researchers.
To his friends and colleagues, he was a curmudgeon and mentor loved by all. He was quietly and extraordinarily generous, both professionally and personally. He would have responded with an acerbic denial if you said that to him. A former football player and wrestler (at Huron High School, Huron, Ohio), he loved watching sports. He was the only person in the world who could get me to sit down and enjoy a football game on TV. He was utterly devoted to his dogs Tntn and Jahng, who it must be said are totally charming little rascals. He helped me and my family in ways I cannot even begin to describe, and I will not try. He was perhaps the first person in the world to believe in my writing. He loved good science fiction. Among his favorite writers were William Gibson, Rosemary Kirstein, N.K. Jemison, Connie Willis, and Linda Nagata.
To describe Chuck as a brother is difficult. As kids, we fought all the time. My mother once wrote back to relatives from a family vacation, “I have been asking myself why we didn’t leave the boys at home, or in cages.” Yeah, I can see that. He was two years older and stronger than I was, and I could never win. I bought a set of weights so I could get stronger, but I never liked using them, and he did. So guess who got stronger.
In high school, he started taking an interest in being a big brother in a good way, and he strong-armed me into joining the wrestling team. I didn’t like it that much at first, but it grew on me, and in time I became dedicated to the sport and valued it for the remainder of my high school years. It was because of Chuck that I ventured way out of my comfort zone for colleges and attended Brown University, where he was a junior. At some point during this period he asked me, “When are you going to start writing again?” And he nudged me for copies of my stories to read.
In our adulthood (when the hell did we become “adults”?) he was relentlessly helpful, especially after I had a family.
He waited many years for a chance to read my forthcoming book, The Reefs of Time. He only got halfway through the first book before he was struck down, which is supremely unfair. But that was long enough for him to find a word-o that had escaped all of my readers and proofreaders, and me.
I’m going miss him like hell.
Here’s Chuck and Youngmee, taken on a trip to Fiji, back 2009.
The thundering, runaway train of Operation Launch got shunted onto a siding last week, when my brother wound up back in the hospital, with pneumonitis and respiratory distress—probably connected to his long-term cancer treatment. I flew to Miami once more to help out. He’s okay-ish. But with liquid in his lungs, he’s tied to continuous high-dose oxygen supplementation for now. Someone has to be there all the time, to make sure nothing goes wrong.
So I’m going to be here for… I don’t know how long, yet. I’ll try to keep working, when I’m not on duty at the hospital. (Beep, beep, beep, boop, beep…)
Brief progress report: I now have print proofs of both books (or will, when the box of Crucible proofs arrives in a day or two), which puts the paper editions of both books that much closer.
Meanwhile, please send thoughts and prayers for my brother Chuck’s recovery.
That 7 a.m. flight out of Burbank was definitely out of my comfort zone time-wise, but it was a very smooth flight nevertheless, and we arrived early in Boston. Here’s what it looked like, coming in low over the harbor.
The temperature in the L.A. area was in the 50’s and 60’s most of the time I was there. I had been chilly, not having packed enough long-sleeve shirts. I knew it would be cooler in Boston, so I wore one of those for a second day, plus a jacket—to find it in the 80’s in Boston!
I was apparently at peak-time pricing for Lyft, so I opted to take the T home. That’s when it started. The Silver Line bus took a big-ass detour, and then broke down at the combustion-to-electric changeover point, and all the passengers dragged their luggage to another bus. The Red Line was fine, except that the elevator at the endpoint was closed for “vertical transportation” improvements. I made it home, though, and thought I was done for the day. But no.
We went out for dinner with friends—and on the way home, I hit a pothole, and BAM!, front tire blowout. Brand-new tire. We were on a downhill access road to a highway, which wasn’t great for changing a tire, but should have been easy for a tow truck to find. But no, the service driver sent by the auto club couldn’t follow even step-by-step instructions, and finally abandoned me without troubling to tell me. By the time my local shop sent a tow truck, it was after 11 p.m., and I’d been waiting for almost two hours. He, bless him, dropped me off at my house on his way to the shop with my car.
I’ve been enjoying this year’s Nebula Conference (in Los Angeles) hugely. It’s been years since my last one, and the number of new faces is astounding. I’ve seen old friends, made new ones, had dinner with some of my Book View Café buddies, and attended a couple of business meetings, which were actually quite interesting. I’m part of the rules committee that wrestles with issues pertaining to the Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Awards, and for once, we were all in the same room, talking face to face instead of through endless emails. Much more satisfying.
One thing SFWA (that is, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) has instituted at the Nebula Conference—besides expanding the programming into a real conference, full of interesting information—is a Mentor program. The idea is that experienced members volunteer to meet with new members and newcomers to the conferences, and present a welcoming and friendly face and answer questions, whether it’s about con-going or getting published. I met with two “mentees” and had great conversations.
Here’s a pic of me with Roman Godzich, one of the mentees, a great guy and new writer. Now, how is it that he was giving me the useful tips about book promotion, especially how to successfully advertise on Facebook and Amazon? I’m not sure he learned much from me, but we had a fun conversation.
Here’s another pic of me with Joe and Gay Haldeman, two of my favorite people in the science fiction world.
Grab a partner and hold tight!The Reefs of Time have taken a sharp left turn. My long-time publisher, Tor Books, has declined to publish it, sight unseen.* This came as something of a shock. The reason given is that it’s been too long since the last book—which is certainly true.
Fear not—the project is not grounded! But it has changed direction abruptly. I will publish it through my own imprint, Starstream Publications, in cooperation with Book View Café. While at first glance this seems like a setback, I choose to regard it as a blessing and an opportunity. I’ll get the rights back to the earlier material, and can now control the entire series, top to bottom. And I can publish the new work the way I want.
It does mean I have a lot of work cut out for me, and I don’t just mean publishing Reefs. Before the new book can come out, I need to have all the first four books available in new print editions, so that new readers can start at the beginning and read the whole story. These books are already available in ebook, but many people still prefer print. And then, of course, I need to do all the production of ebook and print book on the new novel—including cover design.
I have hired an assistant for the promotional efforts. I have called on artist and writer Chris Howard, who has already done two covers for me, to outdo himself. Various of my colleagues, both in and out of Book View Café, have stepped forward with offers of help. It’s been amazing, really. Still others have offered strong encouragement, including some terrific authors who have been dropped by traditional publishing and gone on to do exactly what I’m doing, and done quite well at it.
This all happened suddenly, and it’s too soon to have a realistic time frame sketched out. But my goal is to have the new work out in time for the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, in August.
Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
*This might seem odd, since I’ve been working on the book with my editor for about eight months. But he’s working on a consulting basis for Tor, and it was only when the books were ready to go into production in-house that the editorial oversight team at Tor said no. I’m not taking it personally; in fact, they’re settling graciously, and unlike many authors I’ve known in similar positions, I’m getting all my rights back without a fight. It’s an amicable divorce. There are no hard feelings on my part.
I’ve been pretty quiet the last couple of weeks. That’s because I’ve been in Miami helping out my brother Chuck and his wife, following his recent surgery for cancer. It’s been a rocky recovery; he was in the hospital for a week longer than expected. Now he’s home, recuperating, with the additional help of Tntn (pictured) and Tntn’s brother Jahnghan. I hope he’ll be well enough for me to go home in a few days.
I‘ve been getting a lot of work done, anyway—working on the final editing of Reefs, with feedback from my editor. (More on that in a forthcoming post.)
Here’s a picture of Chuck, a month ago, receiving the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.
It all started with the pair of timpani we rescued from a middle-school dumpster a year ago. I’ve been playing those, off and on, down in our basement, not letting my lack of knowledge about kettle drums stop me. But long, long ago, in my high school band in a galaxy somewhere, I put aside the clarinet one year to play snare drum in the marching band. I’ve long hankered to pick up the sticks again.
Well, it’s happened. The need for a respite after finishing work on the monster book, combined with the local drum store having a closing sale, led me to a practice pad. And in the way of all gateway drugs, that led to… a full drum kit—a Pyle PTED06 electronic tabletop kit, to be precise. I’ve been having a ball.
Let’s let the video speak for me. I present… The Star Rigger Drum Lab!