my Sunday feeling

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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…….

 

my Sunday feeling

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(Picture above is Christmas Eve 1978. I’m in the bottom middle, age 9.)

It’s Christmas Eve, which has always been the big holiday celebration in my family. When my mother was growing up, her mother and father would host Christmas Eve, and many relatives would come over, including my mother’s uncle Cal and his family, who lived right downstairs. After all four of her kids grew up, they would bring their families to the house in the Bronx on the 24th of December and there would be antipasto, chicken soup, and lasagna.

For me, Christmas Eve meant going to Grandma and Grandpa’s place, with my parents, and then on Christmas Day, my father’s sister would host a smaller gathering that would include me, my parents, my aunt, and my grandfather.

My grandfather died in 1976, and the following year, my grandmother moved back to where she grew up in rural western Pennsylvania. Starting in 1977, my parents took over the Christmas Eve festivities. All the various relatives would come over, we’d eat the antipasto, soup, and lasagna, and then we’d open presents, and then there’d be various desserts and coffee. My aunt continued to host a smaller Christmas Day celebration with just me, my parents, and her (my grandfather at this point had retired to Italy, where he died in 1987).

Since the age of eight, that has been how I’ve spent almost every Christmas Eve, the lone exception being the one time I went out to Indiana to spend it with Terri’s family in 2002. (Our original notion was to alternate years between NYC and Indianapolis, which we abandoned after the first time.) And my aunt has continued to host Christmas Day for just the immediate family.

We’ve scaled things back the last couple of years, as my mother’s ongoing health issues have made it impossible for her to host so big a gathering in the house, so now it’s just me, the four parents, my aunt, and Wrenn and Dale, with pretty much the same crew going to my aunt’s house the following afternoon. We have the uncles over to a local pub on the 26th.

We also gather with many of our dearest friends on New Years Eve and do a gift exchange with them, which we’re very much looking forward to this year as usual.

This year has been — bizarre, to say the least. Personally and professionally, it’s actually been pretty good for the most part, even if it feels like the country as a whole is going to Helsinki in a handbasket. And our financial situation could afford to be a lot better (many people are getting handmade gifts this year cuz that’s cheaper, sigh). But still, we’re ending the year with our traditional gathering with loved ones, and that means we’re ending it the right way, dadgummit.

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(Picture above is Christmas Eve 2016. There are five people who are in both pictures…..)

my Sunday feeling

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As I write this, I’m sitting in a train that is hurtling eastward down on the tracks from Rochester toward Albany before veering southward toward NYC to take me home.

It was, as usual, a very good RocCon. The convention keeps growing, and it now takes up three floors of the Kodak Event Center. Despite being in the far-away third floor (along with the VIP guests, like Burt Ward and Nana Visitor and Jeremy Bulloch and Glenn Morshower and so on), I got great foot traffic at my table, plowing through a good chunk of my stock. I sold at least one of every book I brought except for my Command & Conquer novel (yes, I actually sold two each of my two Young Hercules books), and I also sold one of Wrenn’s bears and one of her pillows, plus lots more people admired her work and took her card.

I also finally — on my fourth trip to Rochester and after hearing locals rave about it regularly — made it to Dinosaur Barbecue, which has most excellent ribs and yummy sides and a great beer selection. Great place to have Saturday dinner after a long con weekend.

I’ve also dived back into A Furnace Sealed, which I’m hoping to get finished this month and finally turned in to WordFire Press. I also intend to spend this month finally getting out the Mermaid Precinct and “Baker’s Dozen” rewards that are do-able. And maybe finally getting the next Dead Kitchen Radio up.

I also have a big announcement about the Precinct series coming very soon now…..

 

from the archives: my Sunday feeling, 12 June 2017

This came up in my Facebook memories–one of my regular “my Sunday feeling” posts about a weekend filled with karate and spending time with Wrenn. I present it hear one year later.

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Long, exhausting weekend, but a really good one, most of it involving either karate or spending time with Wrenn.

Friday was a beautiful day, the perfect time to go to the Bronx Zoo (pictures can be found on Facebook). We didn’t get to ride the bug carousel, but we did see tigers and birds and bears and such.

Friday night, was, of course, my usual teaching of the kids fighting class. That class is going very well, and one of my regular kids has started taking the adult fighting class, which is pretty groovy. He’s a really good fighter and it’s good to see him challenged.

After that, Wrenn and I went to a local steak house. We had a bit of a financial windfall, and so we took advantage. It was expensive, but it was YUMMY!

Saturday, we went to Little Italy in the morning for shopping, then I helped Shihan teach the noon kids class, then took the 1pm class. The afternoon was made more entertaining during the former when I was demonstrating a jumping front snap kick for the kids, and something went pop in my right thigh. I pulled a muscle in the back of my thigh. Luckily, I keep pain patches in my karate bag, so I put one on and got through the rest of the day.

Which included a promotion! Several of the kids in the three afterschool karate classes I teach, as well as the one that Senpai Dylan teaches, were eligible to go from white belt to advanced white belt. They all did supremely well, and I’m incredibly proud of them. The afterschool kids are a bit of a challenge sometimes — they don’t have the same level of discipline as the kids in the dojo — but I really enjoy teaching them and I love seeing how much they’ve learned, and how much stronger they are both physically and mentally.

Wrenn and I had a nice dinner of fried chicken and corn on the cob, and I watched the first episode of the new Roots and we both watched a few episodes of The Venture Bros., as we finally catch up on season 6.

Today was promotion day at the dojo, which involved four sessions: the first was four-and-five-year-olds and white belt kids, the second was color-belt kids (including one of the kids from my afterschool program who wound up joining the dojo and is now a yellow belt; she did really well, too!), the third was adults, and the fourth was three of the adults who were going for advanced brown belt, and so had more stuff to go through, including fighting.

The three now-advanced brown belts are women who started at the dojo at the same time, and the three of them have progressed together all the way to this highest color belt level. One in particular is like me, someone who was in a sedentary profession and did almost no exercise prior to signing up for karate, and she has progressed superbly. Her technique and spirit are superb, as good as anyone in the dojo. All three of them showed amazing skill, amazing strength, and amazing spirit today as we pushed them really hard, and they came out the other side magnificently. They’re all going to make superb black belts.

Just in general, I really love teaching, and weekends like this are a big part of it: seeing people whom I’ve taught — some of them exclusively, some occasionally, some more along the lines of mentoring rather than actual teaching — achieve success at promotion, which is a tangible symbol of what they’ve learned and how they’ve progressed. It’s wonderful.

Afterward, I was beyond exhausted — did I mention it included fighting? and I pulled a muscle, so that was fun? — so Wrenn met me at our local Irish pub for yummy food, desperately needed booze, and live Irish music. Bliss!

Then we came home and napped a lot. *laughs* Gonna make dinner soon and watch more Venture Bros. GO TEAM VENTURE!