my Sunday feeling

This week, I’m doing my first two in-person events since the apocalypse started. There’s the Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills Creamery Tuesday night, and then Thursday I fly down to Florida to do Pensacon at Bard’s Tower.

Between that, and the fact that I’m back to training and teaching in the dojo, I needed a better mask. Conveniently, Wrenn and I were given as birthday presents RZ Masks by the generous and awesome ToniAnn and Kyle. These masks are heavy duty, can be used either for germ protection or simple dust protection, have fancy-shmancy carbon filters that last for about two days of continuous use, are adjustable, sit comfortably without moving on your face, AND DON’T FOG UP MY GLASSES!!!!!!!

That last part is the biggie for me, with the penultimate part particularly important, too. Both in the dojo and at conventions, I’m going to be indoors with lots of other people at various (and unknown) stages of vaccination, from not at all to fully and every stage in between, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll all be masked and that those who are masked will wear them properly. All being vaccinated does is keep me from getting a bad case of COVID-19, it’s not full immunization, so I’m going to need a good mask for a good while, and I’m so grateful to have this one.

Especially since it’s red, which is my favorite color. And yes, it makes me look vaguely Deadpool-ish, but I’m okay with that…..

Anyhow, I’ve spent the last few days doing more work for the tie-in project I can’t talk about yet, and I will be spending the next few days getting a bit ahead on the Voyager Rewatch so I can do Pensacon with a clear conscience, and also getting a new Kickstarter going that I’ve been meaning to get going for the better part of a year. (Sigh.)

How’s your weekend?

my Sunday feeling: Happy Mothers Day!

The collage above is of my mother, GraceAnne Andreassi DeCandido, with me in 1972, 2009, 2016, and 2018.

This Mothers Day was delightful, despite the drag effect of Wrenn’s busted wing. We went over to my parents’ place for dinner, where my father and I collaborated on preparing a meal of fried chicken. We make excellent fried chicken, if I do say so myself — we use flour and cornmeal and spices for the breading, which goes on the chicken parts after they’re soaked in buttermilk, and it’s very very yummy. Helga, my second mommy, made biscuits, and also ginger bread for dessert. (One mother wanted other people to make the meal; the other wanted to contribute to it.)

Today brought one of the joys of 2021 into sharp relief. Between March 2020 and April 2021, I didn’t set foot in my parents’ house for more than a few seconds. Being able to actually go in and walk around and hang out and have a meal — which we’ve done three times now, for Easter, Wrenn’s birthday, and today — feels like it’s the first time I’ve been in the house in a thousand years. Walking through the living room felt like I was reliving a childhood memory, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to go into my parents’ place regularly. It was disturbing, but also pleasant in its own way.

Anyhow, happy Mothers Day to my two Mommies, to the Godmommy, to Fur Mommies Wrenn, Meredith (and her cohort in Fur Mommy-dom, Anneliese), and ToniAnn, and to all the mothers out there (you know who you are)!

my Sunday feeling

This has been an emotional weekend. Yesterday was the memorial for Dave Galanter. If you missed it, it’s been archived on Dave’s memorial web page, which also has lovely testimonials from people, as well as a donate button if you want to help the family in these troubled times.

That was but one of several Zoom sessions this weekend. Among the others were Saturday afternoon’s karate class, Saturday evening’s poker game, and then this evening, me and several of the black belts in our dojo had a nice gathering. Normally, this weekend would be the annual dojo holiday party, which we obviously couldn’t do. But we had twelve black belts gathered over Zoom — including one person from our Italian branch! — which was lovely.

In addition, Wrenn and I put up our tree! (That’s the picture above.) We went back and forth about doing the tree this year, and then decided we wanted to be as festive as possible, if for no other reason than to celebrate that this shitshow of a year is coming to an end.

Also, I’ve been plugging away at Feat of Clay, the sequel to A Furnace Sealed. I started the book on the 1st of December and twenty days later, I’m 10,000 words in. Not the best pace ever, but not the worst, either.

Christmas is this week, and we’ll be doing it the same way we’ve done everything that involved gathering in groups prior to mid-March 2020: over Zoom. Not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Honestly, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Streamyard have saved my sanity this year.

Tonight’s task is to write up “Living Witness,” which will be the final Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch entry for the year, as Tor dot com is taking the last couple weeks of the year off (though I will still be providing reviews of each episode of Star Trek: Discovery when they drop on the 24th and 31st).

How are you all spending your holidays?

my Sunday feeling

Last night, Debra Doyle died rather unexpectedly, apparently from a heart attack. She and her husband James Macdonald were writing partners, editors, teachers, and commenters on life, the universe, and everything. They also were a major part of both the Science Fiction Roundtable on GEnie and were part of the founding staff of SFF.net for its entire existence. I can’t imagine what Jim and their kids must be going through right now, and my heart goes out to them all. Deb and Jim were fixtures at northeast conventions for many years, and we spent many long hours hanging out at them throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

In addition, Dave Galanter has publicly announced that he has cancer, and his doctor recently told him that his life expectancy is half a year or less. Dave is a fellow Trek author, the founder of ComicBoards.com (which was a valuable and nifty geeky space in the first decade of the millennium), and a dear friend and wonderful human being.

It’s not all bad news, though — a very dear friend of mine and Wrenn’s got married today to her fiancee. They’ll do the big party some time next year, but at least they were able to get married. I’m incredibly happy for both of them.

What pisses me off most, of course, is that even if there is a funeral for Deb, I won’t be able to go to it, I will probably never see Dave in person again, and I couldn’t celebrate with the happy couple yesterday like we were planning.

2020 continues to defecate in our trousers daily.

Take care of each other. Tell the people you love that you love them. And for the love of fuck, vote if you haven’t already.

my Sunday feeling

On this day eleven years ago, after a whole bunch of fighting, the event in the above picture happened: Shuseki Shihan Paul (he was Shihan Paul then) tied a black belt on me for the first time.

It still doesn’t feel entirely real over a decade later. Being physically fit was never really a big part of my self-image, even though I’ve been a martial artist for almost a third of my life now.

My Facebook memories over the past week or so has been full of black belt stuff, as not only was my shodan promotion eleven years ago, but my sandan promotion was three years ago. (My nidan promotion happened in March, seven years ago.)

I’m still training during the apocalypse. Our dojo did classes over Zoom over the spring, and then in mid-summer switched to hybrid classes — people can train in the dojo wearing masks and keeping their distance from the other students, or they can continue to train over Zoom. I’ve been sticking with the latter option, as I’m perfectly fine training from home over the laptop, and I’d rather leave the few spaces in the dojo to people who can’t train online for whatever reason.

And I’m teaching again! Two people have requested private lessons, and I’ve been teaching them — one an advanced brown belt kid who needs to learn a ton of stuff at this level, the other a white belt who moved far away but still wants to train, and I can work with her over Zoom quite nicely.

Meantime, the writing continues apace. I’m finishing up a campaign for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game, I have a new project that I need to write up some pitches for, I have to outline the next Bram Gold book, finally, and I need to do a bunch of things for Patreon before the month ends (I’m massively backlogged on TV reviews, I have to write this month’s movie review — of Vampires vs. the Bronx — and I have to write this month’s vignette).

Also had socially distant dinners with my parents two of the last three nights, which is getting more challenging as we go into fall and it gets too cold to eat outside. We may go back to what we did in the spring and do dinners over Zoom.

This week will also see me and Wrenn voting. Early voting started in NYC this weekend, and the lines have been incredibly long. We’re hoping that three days in and on a weekday, the lines will be shorter. Certainly our early-voting place had a line that went on for several blocks.

I can’t emphasize this enough: VOTE. It’s always important, but it’s particularly important this year. People died so every citizen could have the right to have a voice in their government. You should exercise that right.

How was your weekend?

my Sunday feeling (written on Monday)

Yesterday was a truly frabjous day (calloo callay). First I ran an errand for a very grateful friend, then picked up Matthew at a friend’s house where he’d spent the night, then picked up The Mom and The Infomancer and the five of us all drove down to SoHo for a magical afternoon.

IMAG2936

I put on one of my nice sweaters for the occasion…

Our first stop was Lombardi’s Pizza, which is generally considered the first pizza place in the United States, having opened in 1905. It takes up all of the corner of Mott and Prince Streets, and has expanded out to several other spots in the area, depending on how crowded it gets. They only take cash, they only take reservations for six or more people, and they have some of the best pizza you will ever eat in your life. Added bonus: you can get an genuine Italian raspberry soda, complete with whipped cream, which is to die for.

IMAG2937

After that, we went across the street to Rice to Riches, which only does rice pudding. Now, mind you, I dislike rice pudding intensely, but everyone else with me loves it, and I love going there just because they have the most entertaining signage. The place is worth going to just to read the silly signs….

IMAG2938

We had time before the concert we were going downtown to see to start — we left a lot of time to be seated at Lombardi’s, which we figured would take forever, but we got seated right away, amazingly enough — so we traipsed over to Harney & Sons for tea. H&S has some great teas, and Wrenn is particularly addicted to their cherry blossom green tea, so we got to refill that.

IMAG2939

Finally, we went to the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral for a lovely concert by Amor Artis, a magnificent choral group. They did a beautiful Christmas concert filled with beautiful renditions of many songs of the season, from classical to baroque to modern and back again, opening with a gorgeous medley of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and continued through to a bunch of lovely songs.

The main reason why we wanted to see this concert in particular is that the daughter of one of The Mom and The Infomancer’s fellow library students at Columbia University back in the early 1970s, Sarah Nelson Craft, is one of Amor Artis’s featured singers, and she did a powerful rendition of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” an early-20th-century song in the style of Negro spirituals (and which Mahalia Jackson did a particularly stunning version of).

The show ended with “Auld Lang Syne,” plus an encore of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It was beautiful, with great music, and excellent use of the spectacular church acoustics.

IMAG2940

And then we went home, filled with pizza, tea, rice pudding, and music.

 

my Sunday feeling

IMG_2820

This is my first weekend home in a month — each of the last four weekends was spent at a convention. First there was MegaCon in Orlando, then there was Balticon 53 in Baltimore, then GalaxyCon in Richmond, and finally Indy PopCon in Indianapolis.

Holy crap do I not want to do that again…..

At least the cons were generally good and productive. MegaCon and GalaxyCon were both well attended cons at which I sold tons of books at the Bard’s Tower booth. At the former, I also got to do a nifty panel with Sherrilyn Kenyon and Karen Chance, which was a huge hit, and which got people to come to the table.

Balticon was as it always is, which is a good thing: a fine mostly literary genre convention full of writers and readers and artists and craftspeople and agents and editors and podcasters and all sorts of other folks taking joy in the nerdy. I did several excellent panels and readings and things, including great discussions on solving crimes in fantasy settings, Captain Marvel, freelancing, economics in fantasy settings, and Marvel’s Netflix series.

This was a special weekend, as it was the tenth anniversary of the Balticon where Hugh Casey introduced me to this cute redhead and we hit it off so well that we’ve now been living together for nine years and married for two.

But the big thing that happened Balticon was the eSpec Books launch party, which included the official launch of Mermaid Precinct, which officially went on sale on the 1st of June, shortly after the convention. The folks at eSpec have a deserved reputation for throwing good book launch parties, and this was no exception, as lots of people came to eat, drink, and be merry — and buy books! Not just my new release, but also Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s Eternal Wanderings, Bud Sparhawk’s Shattered Dreams, and Anna Kashina’s Shadowblade, plus eSpec’s reissues of Danielle’s The Redcaps’ Queen and James Chambers’s Three Chords of Chaos.

The one con of the four that didn’t work out great as a con was still fun for me, that being Indy PopCon. Business was not great. Attendance was way lower than anticipated, down from last year, and apparently done in partly by the Pride Parade being Saturday. (Though lots of folks were wearing rainbows all weekend…) On top of that, our booth was right next to a stage where panels were held parts of Friday and Sunday and all fucking day Saturday, the noise and crowds interfering with our ability to do commerce.

Having said that, I had a great time in Indy anyhow, because I have a ton of friends there. I got to spend time with three of them, which was wonderful, and also saw several more at the con. (I did miss two, sadly, as we couldn’t make the schedules mesh.)

This week has been recovery, though there’s been less of that than we’d like because a good friend of ours, Paul Pelkonen, died suddenly of a heart attack this week. Last night, a bunch of Paul’s friends, including me and Wrenn, gathered at the very same apartment where we met Paul and his partner Emily to remember him. There’ll be a more formal memorial down the line.

Also this week was the promotion for my afterschool kids, and I gotta say, they were fantastic. They all performed beautifully. Shuseki Shihan was very impressed, and I’m very grateful to my kids — who don’t always behave themselves — for being disciplined and strong and talented when it mattered. (It helped that their families were all there watching…)

Today is laundry, making tomato sauce, and writing, with a brief detour to our favorite restaurant for Father’s Day dinner. (The picture above is from our Father’s Day dinner at that same restaurant two years ago, me flanked by my two fathers, Robert DeCandido, who sired me, and John Peters, who helped raise me when he joined our household in the early 1970s.)

Happy Father’s Day, all!

my Sunday feeling

italy-map

In April 2017, Wrenn and I got married. In November 2018, we finally get to go on our honeymoon. Thanks to a gift, we’re able to spend eighteen days in Italy.

The first time I went to Italy was in 1981. I was twelve years old. My paternal grandfather was born in this country, but he retired to the family home in northern Italy (small town called Sequals about two hours north of Venezia in the region of Friuli). Twice, he paid our airfare for us to come visit him, and we built vacations around it. In August ’81, we spent a month in Italy, with one week in Sequals with Nonno, the other three in Roma, Firenze, Siena, Pisa, Bologna, Ravenna, Padua, Venezia, and Verona. The second trip was in April 1984, where we did a week in Sequals, a weekend in Venezia (which included my fifteenth birthday, which we had at Harry’s Bar, and which is one of my five or six best birthdays ever), and then four days in Paris.

Anyhow, my parents are librarians (well, were, they’re retired now), and even with airfare covered, we had to economize, so we stayed in a lot of cheap pensiones. One such was the Palazzo Ravizza. Back then, the rooms were small and we had to share a bathroom with the entire floor. But it had this amazing garden out back that was absolutely gorgeous, plus it had a stupendous view of the Tuscan hills. Twelve-year-old me decided then and there that when I got married, I would have my honeymoon at this place.

Fast forward thirty-seven years, and I finally get to fulfill that promise I made myself. Mind you, the Palazzo Ravizza is now a luxury resort, so we’re not spending all eighteen days there — only four. And we can only do that much because it’s the off-season. But we’re still getting to do it!

We’ll also be spending a lot of time in Roma, in Firenze, and also just outside Firenze in Sesto Fiorentino, the latter to spend time with the members of my karate dojo’s Italian branch, which is located there. Looking forward to hanging out with them and training with them. We’re also planning to day trip to Milano, and we intend to hit lots of museums and take lots of winery tours.

Meanwhile, stuff’s gotta get done. I’m one scene away from finishing the draft of Mermaid Precinct. I’m getting all the superhero movie rewatches done ahead of time. (I’ve already watched and written up The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which will go up on Tor.com on Friday the 9th, and I’ve watched and written the intro for Jonah Hex; still have to write the plot summary and review for that, which will go up on the 16th). For Patreon, I want to put up the October vignette now that it’s November (oops), and also write my retro-review of M*A*S*H‘s tenth season, and also write my reviews of Snowfall, Hawaii Five-OhHalloween, and Animal Kingdom (both the original Australian movie and the TNT TV show). Some of that may happen on the plane ride Tuesday. I still have to catch up on a bunch of shows that I want to review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger, The Alienist, Lodge 49, Preacher, The Good Cop, and Murphy Brown. That probably won’t happen until after Italy at this rate, sadly. Oh, and I have some editorial work that’s behind, and I have to write a game tie-in novelette and start another novel. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Anyhow, keep an eye on my Facebook page (personal or fan page, either is fine, and both are public), my Twitter feed @KRADeC, and/or my Instagram for pictures of Italy, of which I will be taking many.

 

my Sunday feeling

tippytappy

Crazy busy. Writing stuff. Karate stuff. More writing stuff. Plus a birthday present from a friend yesterday that was a much needed oasis of silliness to preserve my sanity. Now back to more writing stuff.

I will say this, in response to the shootings in Santa Fe: anybody whose response to this rash of school shootings is anything other than much more fucking gun control, you can go fuck yourself in the face. One person put explosives in his shoe, and suddenly everyone has to take off their shoes off at airports. Second-hand smoke is proven to be as dangerous as first-hand smoke and suddenly nobody can smoke indoors. More people die when they don’t fasten their seat belts, and now everyone fastens their seat belts when they get in cars, which was not always the case.

Yet more and more mass shootings committed by people who have easy access to guns because apparently we fetishize guns in this country more than I realized — I honestly thought we fetishized our children more, but apparently not, because people’s desire to own a weapon of destruction is apparently more important than dead children.

One of the arguments, of course, is that you can’t legislate behavior. I just gave three examples that disprove that very handily, and all four notions — taking off shoes, fastening seat belts, smoking out of doors, and gun control — are all designed to save people’s lives.

Anyhow, back to writing…………..

 

my Sunday feeling

FBprofile2

Was hoping to spend all day working on the tie-in book, and I have spent time on it, but not as much as I’d hoped. But that’s okay, because I did get other things done, including some shopping and some laundry, and I’m also making a new batch of tomato sauce, as we finished the old batch this past week.

As a result, the house smells yummy. And I’m pleased with how the novel’s going, even if I didn’t write as much today as I wanted to. (There’s still more tonight to write, too.)

Had a weird experience with reviews, as Michael Ventrella posted an online review of Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot, which ranked the stories in order of quality. Of the 14 things ranked (13 stories, plus the introduction), “Six Red Dragons” was ranked eighth. It could’ve been worse, of course, but still, that was a little disappointing. And also confusing, particularly the closing line of the review of my story: “‘Six Red Dragons’ suffers for its lacklustre writing and colloquialisms, which ruins the flavour of the story.” Lacklustre writing, fine, not everyone’s going to like my style, but what’s the issue with colloquialisms? Shouldn’t characters in modern New York sound like characters in modern New York? Just a weird criticism….

Reviews giveth and reviews taketh away: someone on GoodReads reviewed last year’s Nights of the Living Dead anthology and listed her five favorite stories — mine was one of them! (Alongside the stories by Craig Engler, Brian Keene, David Wellington, and Chuck Wendig, so I’m in good company.)

Anyhow, life is life, he says philosophically. I end with this deep thought that I posted on both Facebook and Twitter:

When A Game of Thrones was first published, George R.R. Martin was two-and-a-half decades into his career. And it was fifteen years after that that the HBO series debuted.

Just a reminder to myself and other writers that sometimes it takes a while for the brass ring to come in reach…….