Monday, August 31, 2009

The ACACIA Giveaway Winner!

Good Monday to you. The Durham's held the first drawing/competition and got a winner. This was for the UK paperback of Acacia: The War With The Mein. Herewith I offer photo documentation of the proceedings.

I printed out all the names entered in this category, cut them into little tickets and then put them into a container. My son, Sage, drew... He didn't draw just one winner, though. Instead, he pulled out four finalists.

They were: Jacqueline George, Krieghund, Jennifer Lawrence and Heather Shutler.

Congrats for making it to the final stage!

These names were each attached to their own Frisbee disc for the finale... (Ultimate and Disc Golf have been important parts of the summer this year.)We marked off a quick Frisbee gold course in the backyard, with a particular tree as the goal. Both Maya and Sage took turns throwing...

The winner was to be the one that got nearest that goal. There was some drama right at the start, as it seemed the yellow Frisbee that bore Krieghund aloft might be an early ringer. Sage lofted him near the target with ease. The next two tries couldn't best him.

Between rounds, Maya took a moment out to cuddle with Persy...

And then she threw the final disc in a tremendous effort that landed just beside the goal, a clear winner. It was the Red disc (Leopard), and it bore this name on it...

And there you have it. Heather Shutler, you are the winner! Please drop me an email at Let me know where you'd like the book sent. I'll sign it and pop it in the mail to you.

Thanks to everyone that was in this one! The drawing for The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) will happen soon too. Stay tuned!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Giveaway Is Closed

Okay folks, that's it. The window for tossing your name in the hat for one of these books has now officially closed. Thanks to everyone that joined via my Forum or Facebook. Much appreciated. I'm happy to say that enough of you did join that this thing will actually be fairly competitive!

Over the weekend, I'll work out how to do the drawing this time around. I change it a little each time, although as in the past it will likely include my kids. See here for previous examples: HERE, HERE, or HERE.

So check back in a couple of days. You may see your name getting pulled out of hat, or rising out of pool in the form of a wookiee or something equally random...

In other news, I just learned that the foreign rights for Acacia Book 3 (needs a better title, huh?) will be handled through the Curtis Brown Agency in UK. I dig that. You see, for all the books up until now, Doubleday (Random House) handled the foreign rights. (And took a cut accordingly.) This time around, I've maintained the rights, and now my own "people" will be looking after me.

You want some irony in this? Well, consider that Curtis Brown was one of the first agencies to turn me down when I was a kid fresh out of grad school with two novels I was shopping around. They weren't wrong, and neither of those novels sold, but I'm just saying... What a difference a decade makes!

They're a pretty awesome agency, with lots of high-profile clients. (And yet they're accepting me - go figure.) Check out their website: HERE.

I'm still represented by International Creative Management for domestic and film-related stuff. (ICM's website is HERE. And, yes, they are stingy with information. That's in direct correlation to how cool they are, though.) So that hasn't changed. It's just that I now have a somewhat larger extended family out there. I'm all smiles about it.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Audio TOL on Amazon

Hi. Just thought I'd mention that the audio version of The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) is now available to order on It's HERE. I don't know if the pub date is to be trusted, but if it is it'll be out two weeks before the hardcover.

It's not cheap, of course, but it will be an awesome production. Dick Hill continues as the narrator. Perhaps... your local library might like a copy? If you think so, please ask them to order it!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Conversation About Health-care

This if from Fresh Air last night. I found it an interesting discussion. Terry Gross talks to author T.R. Reid, who has just written a book that looks at health-care comparatively between developed nations.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

A Giveaway

Okay. Here it is. My first The Other Lands giveaway. There may be more to come, but this one is purely from my own stash. I'm offering one of the three advanced copies of The The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) that I received from Doubleday, and I'm tossing in a shot at the mass market paperback of the UK edition of Acacia: The War with the Mein. This is them:

You can enter for them separately, and you can enter up to two times. But I'm going to make you work a little bit. So don't enter here. Instead...

You can visit the threads on my Forum HERE. You'll find the threads in the areas for each novel. This does mean you'll have to join, but that's really no hardship. Nothing bad happens. No junk mail or anything like that. Hopefully, once you've joined you might want to visit every now and then. The Forums were once pretty lively, but they've slowed down a lot between books. Perhaps that will pick up again. And you can help.

You can also enter at my Facebook "Fan" page. That's over here.

I'll just keep this open until it seems we've got enough folks entered, and then we'll do our very scientific drawing to pick the winners. Good luck!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

UK Cover - The Other Lands

Might as well keep going with the cover theme...

I just got a few samples of the progress being made on my UK cover. It's been a bit delayed by various things, and at the moment it's still in the works. For all I know Transworld may ask me not to post this, but what the heck? I'll offer it and see what happens. This is the version (1 of 3) that I like the best:

So this may be the cover. On the other hand, I think they want to get a person in there, Dariel, looking out at the Other Lands. I'll let you know if that's what they go with instead.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Cover, Oh Joy!

Ah, the joy of finally receiving finished copies of one's own book! I'd experienced it four times before. (I'm talking first edition, US version.) Now, make it five. Yesterday, The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) showed up. (It pubs about a month from now.) I offer a glimpse here, along with a kitten just to sweeten it...

And here's a different view. The cover has all this sparkly etching and gold flake-like stuff on it that shows up from different angles and in different light. Rather nice.

What's that you say? You want me to... to give a copy away? For free? To just offer it up to whomever wants it? That's the first thing you think to ask me?!

All right, then. I will. Check back. There's a giveaway coming soon!

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How Do You Combat Lies?

I don't know. Frankly, the effort feels a bit hopeless at the moment, considering the way things have evolved with cable and online "opinion" news. It's easy, these days, to express opinion as if it's fact, while at the same time feeling little or no responsibility to check those facts.

Today what frustrates me are the attacks being waged on the British health care system, the NHS. It's all about torpedoing healthcare reform here, of course. Some conservative groups have clearly decided that most Americans are misinformed enough to be lied directly to. They're probably right, and they're probably going to succeed at watering down our health care reform enough that it doesn't make things better for anyone. I find that rather depressing.

Take a listen to this NPR story on the subject.

My personal perspective... I've been part of a Scottish family for about twelve years now. I lived a good five years of that in the UK. I know the NHS isn't perfect, but I also know that I'd jump at the chance of a similar system here. Without it, Plan A for us in the event of a chronic illness is that we'll move back to the UK. We've thought a lot about it, and have felt that way for a long time. I've seen family members treated for chronic illnesses that required long term care in both countries. I've seen how family and friends have raised special needs children in both countries. My daughter was born in the UK, my son in the US. A close friend is a career nurse that's worked in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and... in the US. She's seen the best and worst of the NHS; she's seen the same in the US. Guess which she'd pick?

I used the NHS myself. It's where I first learned to trust doctors and to look to them for preventive medical advice and assessment. And I've no problem believing the FACTS that life expectancy is longer in the UK (see this site from the CIA) and that the World Health Organization rank the US lower than the UK for quality of care.

All of this leads me to complete support of a single payer system - something which we're not even really talking about here. Again, it's not because I think such a system is perfect. I don't. It's not. But I do think it's less fatally and fundamentally and morally flawed than our current system. I can't stress how... right it feels to be able call on a physician without being asked about payment, without having to worry about how much your insurance will cover, without trying to do the math to figure out what deductibles and co pays really mean, without having to make life decisions solely because of insurance fears. Yes, you pay for it in taxes, but frankly we do that here anyway, whether we like to admit it or not.

Mostly, though, I've had a taste of (and find it hard to forget) knowing what it feels like for healthcare to be about healthcare. A taste of what it feels like for it be a right that's shared by an entire population provided as best as a bureaucracy can manage. If you haven't experienced it, you should try it sometime.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hobnobbing... And The Story Of How I Really Won The Campbell...

Anticipation was definitely a productive con in terms of hobnobbing with author and publishing types. I can never remember everyone, but here's a partial list of folks I got to hang out with, in no particular order at all: John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jay Lake, Melinda Snodgrass, Patrick Rothfuss, Doselle Young, Paolo Bacigalupi, Jim Kelly, Ellen Kushner, Ellen Datlow, Guy Gavriel Kay, Nalo Hopkinson, Neil Gamain (just thought I'd slip that in there), Neal Stephenson (very brief), Catherynne M. Valente, Jetse de Vries, Jennifer Jackson, George RR Martin (and Parris), Ian Tregillis, Gardner Dozois, Lou Anders, John Picacio, Paul Cornell, Cory Doctorow, David Levine, Jonathan Strahan, Geoff Ryman, L E Modesitt, NK Jemison, Cheryl Morgan, Daniel A. Rabuzzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Amelia Beamer, Gary K Wolfe, John Kessel, Tobias Buckell, Gregory Wilson, Pat Cadigan, Kate Nepveu, Kyle Cassidy, Niall Harrison, Joe and Gay Haldeman... Geez. Makes me think I know a few people in this business now.

And, of course, I really enjoyed the brief snatches of time I got to spend with the other Campbell Finalists. It was a bit strange at first. Hey, we were all up for the same award. Felix Gilman and I first met when we had a signing together. We didn't do much signing, admittedly. Mostly we were just sitting there a little awkward as an occasional person either 1) stood in front of Felix and told him how great he was while I feigned interest in the length of Cory Doctorow's neverending line, or 2) as (a different person) stood in front of me and said how awesome I was as Felix rearranged the display of his books... Kinda strange.

Aliette de Bodard came and visited. More polite conversation ensued. I knew already that liked all these folks, but that strange award tension/reality sort of hung over everything. First time I bumped into Tony Pi, he stipulated that he wished me exactly as much luck as I wished him. Sort of an even exchange. Fair enough, really.

But still, well... a few drinks can help loosen things up. For example, all tension was gone on the party floor the night before the award ceremony when Tony Pi and Gord Sellar accosted me coming out of an elevator. They had devised a way to cut through all the suspense and predict the winner ahead of time. Easy. All we each had to do was make a paper airplane of our own design, and then compete to see who could throw it furthest. By the time I got involved, Tony and Aliette were already disqualified. It was me against Gord in this round.

We just barely managed to clear enough space in the crowded hallway, but then we tossed... This may have been where my competitors erred. You see, I do have two kids. I have made and tossed airplanes more recently than many. On this occasion, Gord's plane dove for the carpet and mine lofted above the heads of admiring fans... Or something like that. Might be imagining that part, but the result was clear enough. I won. Felix didn't compete and I don't think any of us found him that night, but the dye was cast.

And that, friends, is the true story of how I won the John W Campbell Award. I tossed a paper airplane a few feet longer than my competition. As good a way to decide things as any, I imagine. It's fitting, really, because I don't for a minute think awards like this have anything to do with who is "Best". No chance. It's about being lucky. Yes, some talent is helpful. Hard work is a must. But that's what got us ALL there as finalists. What it really comes down to is being lucky. That's what I was.

I also feel fortunate to have been able to spend time with Aliette, Tony, Gord and Felix. I hope they'll consider me a friend, as I'm absolutely positive they'll be doing great work for some time to come. I know we'll all meet again, and I hope that we'll do so as comrades. I have every intention of following their careers and pointing out their successes every chance I get.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Blighted Heart

I just noticed at Beneath Ceaseless Skies has published a print and audio version of Blighted Heart by Campbell Finalist Aliette de Bodard. Aliette is very cool. (And she was just a few votes away from being the Campbell "Winner" instead of finalist.)

Like her work or want to get to know it? Well... Read it HERE.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Blair Witch Panel

Kathryn Cramer has aptly named my last Worldcon panel "The Blair Witch Panel". It was so weird, friends. So weird. She actually didn't stay for most of it, but what she did she she captured on film.

Go take a look.

I'm not sure I can explain what happened. I mean, I was there, yes. I saw and heard what happened, but it was just all so weird right from the start. Admittedly, I didn't arrive knowing exactly what to make of the topic (something about Cultural Memory) or with much prepared to say. I knew I wasn't moderating, so hoped that however was would give some shape to it. Alas, there was no moderator.

Okay, perhaps we could still pull it together, though, right? Blind Lemming Chiffon picks a guy out of the audience (I don't know who he was) and he jumps up to moderate. We start to define the topic and terms and realize that none of us really have them defined. We're just making it up. Patrick Nielsen Hayden points this fact out. Good point, but already he's getting grumpy. Audience starts trying to help. Blind Lemming Chiffon has a grand idea that the topic can be summed up by a song that a friend of his wrote. He asks her to sing and she jumps up to do so. As the guitar comes out Patrick bolts for the door, muttering curses. The woman... sings a song about... oh, I don't know. Who could listen? At this point I'm just watching the exodus of audience members, wishing I was one of them.

Geoff Ryman, to his credit, tries to get some shape to the discussion. Perhaps unfortunately, though, he mentions race... Oh boy, suddenly we have a race panel! One woman in the audience in particular stands up talking about how she doesn't "see" color, and then follows this with all sorts of offensive, prejudiced comments, complete with some body jive and the mention that though she grew up in LA she's since escaped to Alaska...

And so passed the session. I don't know that we made a bit of sense. I have to say, I really, really wanted to leave. I only didn't because it struck me as disrespectful to the people that came to see the panel and were still sitting there. If there's an upside it's that those people were still there at the end, and they seemed to feel a sense of camaraderie with us for having survived it.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tiara and the Kids

I was going to offer you a tiara picture, but my computer really isn't letting me upload them. Pain in the butt. I can, however, link to my wife's blog. She's got a few photos up. This was a family affair you know. *Note: I've just managed to sneak a few photos in here, but there are a couple more at Gudrun's site.

The fact that Gudrun and the kids were there was one of the absolute best parts of the entire Worldcon/Hugo/Campbell experience. Before the ceremony, they were so nervous and excited. At the pre-Hugo party, Maya put her energy into doodling and came up with this funky cat....

Apparently an artist (I'm not sure who) happened by and paused to gawk over it. Cool.

As they sat beside me in the auditorium during the ceremony they kept looking at me, looking at the screen, looking at mom. Sage couldn't stop his legs from wiggling and squiggling. And when they called me name... Ah, man. Sure, I was excited, but the kids were balls of energy. During my speech I mentioned them all by name, and could see Sage's hair bouncing up and down as he jumped. Awesome.

The first photo of me... well, bare in mind that the auditorium was enormous. I mean, they had these two massive jumbo-tron screens on either side of the stage - that's what that first photo is of. It's me with about a ten foot smile on. There were rows and rows of people. I was just trying to make sure they all knew I was happy...

You'll also see me and Maya and Sage on stage at the Hugos. It felt really wonderful to be able to pull these guys up and share the stage with them for a moment. Had the pleasure of introducing them to GRRM also. Was nice because they had a hand in developing my Wild Cards character, and the man himself got to thank them for that and ask them a few questions. I don't suppose it hurt my status in the family to have stood next to Neil Gamain, and to have held his Hugo! The photo of us side by side is pretty blurry, but so was my mind right about then...

It was all so good that after the ceremony Maya developed an instant, pounding headache. They had to leave the after-party early. But still, we all enjoyed it.

Now, let me say this as well. As happy as I am about all of this I also think I have a pretty good grip on what it does and does not mean. No delusions of grandeur here, just joy at all the pieces falling together in my favor for once. I'll post about this soon. I've promised to write on the topic for Suvudu. When I do I'll let you know.

Okay, I'm off to mow the lawn. It's a lot more fun in a tiara...

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love This Photo Of Scalzi in Triumph

Check it out at Whatever.

One day I'll roar like that.

Oh, and yes, admittedly he does say a nice word or two about me. ;)

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Monday, August 10, 2009

"This Will Go Down On Your Permanent Record..."

Late last night, walking alone (for the first time in many hours) through the streets of Montreal, weighed down with tiara and various boxes of things, I kept hearing a voice saying that. "This will go down on your permanent record." Thing is, the "this" is a very good thing, and I'm thrilled about that permanent record.

The good news: yes, I did win the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (of sf/f) last night. I'll probably need a few days to process that, and today remains a busy one... but I couldn't help wanting to mention it. I'm a very, very happy writer today.

Here's the Anticipation Press Release, with all the Hugo winners.

More soon.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Another Con Day, Another Con Anxiety

Okay. Crunch day behind me now. It all went quite well, I think. No major gaffs at the panels, and lots of laughs. I particularly enjoyed the "We Are the Knights Who Say F***" panel with Guy Gavriel Kay, Patrick Rothfuss, Marc Gascoigne and special guest Ellen Kushner. Smart bunch of folks, those.

I even had it in me to spend some time up on the party floor, at the Brotherhood without Banners (GRRM's fan club) and at a smaller function to celebrate Paolo Bacigalupi's release of The Windup Girl. I spent perhaps too much time eying Mary Robinette Kowal's Campbell Tiara...

Which brings me to today. Today culminates in the Hugo Award Ceremony. I'm really curious to how it plays out for everyone, especially as I have some real favorites in the running. Overshadowing it all, though, is that I remain one of five contenders for that tiara. Somewhere the award plaque exists already, with somebody's name carved in it. But whose? About twelve hours from now, the world (at least as much of it that cares) will know.

Other stuff - Kate Nepveu - with whom I actually just had a panel here at Anticipation - recently posted a review of Acacia: The War with the Mein on She said lovely things about it. You can read it HERE. She's very smart.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Two Days Down, Now the Crunch

Hello. Up early on Saturday morning. Today is the crunch day in terms of panels and events at Worldcon. I'm booked up the entire day. I wish I found this stuff more relaxing. Instead, I tend to worry about each panel that I'm on, trying to figure out what words of wisdom I'll have, wondering the whole time why they picked me for it. It's silly, I know. Truth is, I'm usually pleasantly surprised at how disorganized and casual most panels are, how off topic, how rambling... Guess that's what I should aim for!

I did have my Neil Gaiman panel yesterday. Done. Anyone that attended now knows how much of a Gaiman fan I am. Proudly. Met Nalo Hopkinson for the first time in person - although I felt like I already knew her. Lots of short conversations with great people, all of whom are being pulled this way and that in this crazy web of events and obligations. Also had the Wild Cards dinner with George and the gang yesterday. Very nice. Fun group of people. Lots of laughs.

About the only thing I haven't done too much this time is party. I've got the family with me, and the late night scene has yet to feel quite right when I know my wife and kids are here but I haven't seen them all day. Maybe tonight. GRRM's fan club is throwing a party tonight. I've been to one of these before, and I know they host with enthusiasm...

Off con... Randolph Carter at Grinding To Valhalla has put up an interview I did with them. They're a gaming-focused website, but they also do author interviews and have many aspiring authors among their ranks. I was glad to take part. You can see it Here.

Okay. Gotta run. Long day ahead, though I'm sure it will also pass in a blur.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Windup Girl Cover

Isn't this a pretty cover for an upcoming book?

I think so, and I like this guy Paolo Bacigalupi quite a bit. I'm going to go try to find him here in Montreal. He's around somewhere, maybe going to pick up a Hugo soon...

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Looking Northward

So I'm about to head off to Montreal for Anticipation, this year's Worldcon. I've got the entire family with me this time. Should be good. I mentioned my schedule in a previous post, so I won't go through it again here. I'll just say that I'm doing a bunch of stuff and that I want to see a bunch more stuff. There. That's it. I will be gratified and disappointed in equal measure, I'm sure, and it will all be worth it.

Oh… And the Durham's will be having sushi with Mary Robinette Kowal tomorrow night. Lovely. And on Friday I'm dining with... oh, George RR Martin and some of the Wild Cards crew. Saturday? Who knows? Maybe I'll get my hooks into Neil. One can dream, yeah? (Actually, on that... Gudrun has been stalking Neil - along with many others - on Twitter. She even got a response from him once, something about Gnomes and adjectives.) Truth be told, I have Neil on the brain just now, especially as I'm on that panel about his fiction and he is the guest of honor and all that...

Just finished The Graveyard Book, by the way. One day, I'll write something with an ending that's as life affirming and touching. Someday. Hopefully soon.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll start by driving through Vermont and into Canada. Oh... also, you know I'm up for an award? The John W Campbell Award. Won't find out what's happened with that until Sunday night. Please, though, think positive for me. It would mean a lot to win this one.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fantasy Magazine's Gateway Books

Over at Fantasy Magazine they're conducting a survey.

They've a list of books people suggested as possible gateway books, titles that might be good ones to introduce people to the genre. Somebody was nice enough to make sure Acacia: The War with the Mein got on the list. That's nice. I've no thoughts that I'll make it to the next round - of twenty. There are just too many beloved books to choose from, many of them great choices, I think. But it's nice to be on the longlist!

If you want to take a look and vote click Over To Here. Have a say!

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Can you answer a question for me if I don't actually explain what the question is?

That was the title of a post I did over a year ago, put up for a few hours, and then took down. It was from back in the spring of 08. At the time, we were living in Fresno. I was trying to settle into my job there, and my family was trying to settle in to life there. Thing is, that's never been easy for us. No matter where we live, we're always dreaming of someplace else. Gudrun and I do have this wandering bug, even though we also feel the pull of wanting to be settled. There's also the complicating factor that close family members are spread out throughout the world, from the wilds of the North Atlantic to the sunny Caribbean, from Europe to Middle Earth (well... Wellington NZ, I mean).

So this post happened late one evening, after too much talk of far flung places and perhaps a few too many beers. This is what was originally posted 3/29/08...

Friends, I have to ask you something. Simply put, I'm faced with a decision. There are compelling pros and cons. It's a family decision. My question to you... Should we do it? That's the question. I invite your opinions. Thing is, I can't say what it is I'm considering doing. Might be a while before we can talk about it. Actually, it's not a precipitous thing. It's more of a planning ahead thing. But still, I feel an impulse to ask... Should we? So you need more to go on?

Okay, here's the downside of a yes vote...

Dangerous voyage. Foreign lands. Readjustment of left/right orientation required in many instances. Culinary challenges. Linguistic difficulties likely. Weather challenging. Sports knowledge rendered useless. Thick skin required. Fungus a possible problem. Snarky presenters on tv shows likely. Lots of stone. Financial ruination possible.

Here's the upside...

Dangerous voyage. Foreign lands. Readjustment of left/right orientation required. Culinary challenges. Linguistic difficulties likely. Weather challenging. Sports knowledge rendered useless! Thick skin required. Fungus a culinary delight. Snarky presenters on tv shows likely. Lots of stone.
Financial ruination not inevitable... Added to that... Marital harmony. International perspectives.

And a yes vote is a shout for faith in gifts given and the call to use them...

"What's the worst that could happen?" says a voice in the room. (I'm not kidding. That just happened.)
So what do you think? Should I embrace... the possibilities?

That's what I wrote, and thing is I got a quick barrage of responses, which reminded me that, oh, this blog thing is public and maybe I shouldn't be ruminating out in the open in quite this way...

The destination in question was, of course, the Shetland Isles. You may recall that my father in lives there, in a cottage by the wind wracked sea. We didn't make that move. We stepped back from that particular precipice. Gudrun and the kids did spend fall of of 08 in Shetland, as documented on her blog, The Shetland Trader. A year on from this post, though, we'd decided on our move back to Massachusetts, which we just completed.

Why do I post this now? Oh... no reason. Honestly, we're happy and excited about being back in Western Massachusetts. We're in a good place and we'll be staying put for a while. Of course, nothing is permanent and you should you check in here in the years to come you might well find us asking a similar question sometime down the line...

(By the way, the first 11 or so comments on this came from that original post.)