Sudden Left Turn at the Reefs (or, The Great Divorce)

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.

 

Hanging with the Bro

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.

 

Drumming with Jeff

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!

Yuh, all the drum sounds are by me.

Our Mortgage Is History!

This actually happened in the midst of all the other recent excitement, and I neglected to mention it. We’ve paid off our mortgage! Done! Paid! Kaput! Finished! The house is ours!

What a feeling!

Of course, we have to be careful. Half of our monthly payment was escrow for property tax and insurance, and now we have to pay those directly.

But never mind that. The house is ours!

Take that, moneylenders!

B-52s! Culture Club! Live and LOUD!

We saw the B52s, Culture Club, and the Thompson Twins live in concert at the Wang Center in Boston last Friday night. (It was an early birthday gift from Lexi and Connor, who went with us.) It was great! Especially if you didn’t need to make out any of the song lyrics, or use your ears for anything for the rest of the night! Here, reproduced with surprising fidelity by my LG phone, is a brief (fair-use for review purposes only!) clip of the B52s climaxing their set with the song I introduced Lexi to, back when she was little…

Crank that up way past 11 on the biggest speakers you’ve got, and you’ll have a pretty accurate reproduction of the sound.

Between sets, I caught a candid of a couple of hardly-aging boomers checking out the action.

The final set was by headliner Boy George and Culture Club, and they were good, too—except their set featured laser-bright spotlights at the back of the stage, aimed straight into the retinas of the audience. So it was best if you weren’t planning to use your night vision for the rest of the weekend. Culture Club withheld the song we most wanted to hear until the third and final encore. Here, then, is a brief clip of Karma Chameleon, in High Fidelity…

I’m a little surprised to hear that the sound is actually clearer in these videos than it was going into my ears in the theater, past the foam earplugs that Lexi ran out and got us all. I think my ears just went into total overload from the jetwash blast of sound. Seriously, I wonder why the sound engineers think we’ll enjoy the music more if it’s too loud to hear. I think there’s a market out there for noise-reduction headgear that lets the sound through undistorted, but at a lower volume. My Bose ANR earbuds (which I didn’t think to bring) probably would have melted.

All that said, we had a great time reliving our youth with some actual youths!

 

Father-Daughter Dance!

Veteran videographer Allysen took this video on short notice. (I shoved my cellphone into her hand as the music started and said, “Shoot this video!”)


For a guy with two left feet, I thought I did pretty okay. Lexi was radiant and beautiful, so no one was watching me, anyway! (Big thanks to our friend Johanna, who gave me emergency dance lessons.)

 

Lexi and Connor Are Married!

I just got to be Father of the Bride as our daughter Lexi married Connor! Allysen and I could not be happier. I walked Alexandra down the aisle to the lush strains of “Princess Leia’s Theme” from Star Wars, by John Williams—played on the piano by Lexi’s friend Jon. At the end of the beautiful Anglican service, they strode out to the main Star Wars anthem*, with Jon on piano and her lifelong friend Brian on trumpet. In the middle, we had some excellent hymns, coincidentally including my personal favorite, All Creatures of Our God and King, by a composer who I feel would have understood science fiction if it had been around in his time.

These pix came from various friends; we still look forward to the official ones. More to come soon. This is Lexi and Connor at the altar, Lexi’s sister Jayce looking on as Maid of Honor.

A snapshot of the father-daughter dance:

And the weary but happy parents catch a dance for themselves, at the very end of the celebration:

*Those familiar with Allysen and my wedding, not quite thirty-two years ago, might remember that our recessional music was the Star Wars theme, from the soundtrack recording. It’s great to see my daughter carrying the banner.

Range Remake Done!

When I promised we could get a proper range hood for our kitchen, I did not imagine that the project would take more than three months, and a gazillion hours of my time. As soon as we decided to move the stove five inches to the left (it was placed awkwardly because of where the gas line was), everything snowballed. We needed a cleverly designed shelf unit on the right, and a smaller cabinet on the left. And here it is!

Except for the base cabinet, this was all made from wood I found in the basement and garage. Mahogany pieces salvaged years ago by Allysen’s dad turned into the shelf unit, with the help of some butcherblock leftover pieces for the top. And there was just enough butcherblock left to glue together to make the countertop on the left. We are very happy.

 

Countdown!


The countdown seems to be speeding up as we race toward the day when our daughter Lexi ties the knot with a very fine gentleman named Connor. (Did I mention that our daughter is getting married? She is!) The date is June 23, and it’s coming fast. Lexi and Connor seem to have matters well under control (unlike her parents, who basically were setting their hair on fire before their own wedding, centuries ago), but I’m not sure the same can be said of the father of the bride. I still have to buy a new suit (What? I have to wear a suit?), and I have to learn enough dance steps to carry off my role at the reception. There are probably other things, too, but that’s enough right there to give me brain freeze.

All that said, we couldn’t be happier for her, and for Connor. Woo-hoo!

 

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