rasputitsa.

Spring is great, because the snow melts and it stays above freezing at night again.

Spring is not so great because the snow melts and it stays above freezing at night again.

This right here is our road at the moment:

20140404_194926843_iOS 20140404_194950282_iOS

 

New Hampshire’s four seasons are Winter, Mud, Blackflies, and Preparing for Winter.

well, hello there, spring, you saucy minx.

The snow is finally MELTING. I cannot overstate how great that is. I thought I was never going to be warm again.

I know it’s a little obnoxious when someone who voluntarily relocated to New England complains about New England winters, but this particular one was a cast-iron bitch. To illustrate: we usually buy six tons of pellets for heating fuel in the summer. The last few winters, we’ve burned four, maybe four and a half tons for the season, and we usually have a ton or more left over in the spring. This year, we burned through all six tons just past mid-March already (and used up half a 350-gallon propane tank besides), and I had to get another half ton last week to keep the stove running some more. From what the guys at the stove place told me, that’s by no means an uncommon occurrence this year.

These first fifty-degree sunny days have been pure magic. The chickens have been clamoring for outdoor recess, and the kids have wanted to play outside after getting off the school bus instead of racing each other to the Xbox. I have some hope that the ten-foot-tall snow pile next to the house may even melt before July.

bors, 2000-2014.

Bors, a.k.a. Booger Boy, a.k.a. Elder Dog, is no longer with us.

He had a seizure of some sort a week ago, but bounced back to normal very quickly. This morning, it happened again, only there was no bounce. He went quietly in front of the pellet stove, the favorite doggy spot in the winter, with all the other dogs nearby and us there to comfort him. He was 14 and in declining health, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it’s always sad when they finally pack their bags for Rainbow Bridge.

Unfortunately, it happened ten minutes before school bus time, so the kids are a little upset this morning, especially Lyra. Later this morning, I’ll be taking the Booger to our regular vet to have him cremated, and then we’ll have another long conversation about death and dying when the kids get home. It’s their first hands-on brush with mortality–Guinevere, Bors’ mother, went two years ago, but Robin took her to the vet for that last service while the kids were at school. This one was up close and personal for them.

Bors was a sweet boy, an eternal puppy, good-natured and easy-going. He was a therapy dog for a while–he visited the old folks in the nursing home and made the rounds with Robin while she worked there. (He was the New Hampshire Health Care Association’s Volunteer of the Year in 2011, beating out a bunch of humans for the title.) One of her patients used to have dachshunds before she moved into the nursing home, and that dog’s visits were the highlight of her week every time. She passed away two or three years ago, and in this instance, I’m pretty sure that Bors is going to have someone waiting for him at Rainbow Bridge already.

Farewell, Bors. We’ll miss you terribly, but we are glad you could join us for a while.

Nurse Bors Sir Bors certificate

 

a snow-related math problem.

Marko’s garage roof is a flat surface of 75×25 feet.

If there is a uniform snow layer of 2.5 feet thickness on the roof, a cubic foot of lightly compacted snow weighs 15 pounds, and Marko just removed all that snow with nothing but muscle power and a goddamn snow shovel,

a.) How much snow deadweight in pounds did Marko just shovel off the roof?

b.) How many Tim Tams at 95 calories a piece does he need to eat now to replace the calories he just burned shoveling all that motherfucking snow?

c.) How goddamn sick of the snow is Marko at this point?

d.) How soon can Marko relocate the denizens of Castle Frostbite to a new domicile in the more temperate climate of, say, western NC?

Bonus question:

If Marko jumps off the roof into a snowdrift to save himself the climb down the ladder on shaky legs, his idiocy causes him to sink up to his chest into soft powdery snow, and he needs five minutes of exhausting struggling to free himself from his entirely self-inflicted predicament,

e.) How big of a drink is Marko pouring himself right now?

how do you say “feng shui” in danish?

Three of the most dangerous words in the English language: “Legitimate tax write-off.”

20140113_152723273_iOS

We took some time to redo the office in the back of the house last weekend.

I’ve been using the standing desk I got at the Borders going-out-of-business fire sale two and a half years ago, and it works just fine as a computer workstation, but it’s not the best work desk, at least not for my purposes. I write longhand a lot and then transcribe into the computer, so I need quite a bit of elbow room. In the past, that meant I had to do a lot of moving around between two different desks, one for handwriting and one for computer stuff.

Well, thanks to amazing Danish office technology, now I can do both at the same desk. I got an adjustable standing desk from ErgoDepot. It has a lot of working surface (it’s an L-shaped table top that’s roughly six by four feet on the long sides), and it moves up and down at the push of a button via electric motor. You can move it as low as 25″ and as high as 47″. Now I can set the desk to fit the task at hand, not the other way around.

And man, just look at that thing, with the spotlights above lighting up the work surface. It looks like it’s straight out of a goddamn IKEA catalog*. It looks like the space of a hip, professional writer dude who totally knows what he’s doing. In other words, the space of someone who isn’t me. But think about how much easier it will be for me to fake competence now.

*It’s not Ikea. I know this because the instructions were crystal-clear and it only took me twenty minutes to put the thing together.

 

 

2014.

Happy New Year, friends and neighbors!

photo

The kids got to stay up until midnight last night to jump into the new year. I was worried about them even making it to midnight, but it turns out they were just fine. The adults, on the other hand, were dragging just a little, especially me. I was good and ready for bed at 10:30pm already. THIS IS WHAT OLD AGE FEELS LIKE.

Back to work, I suppose. There are novels and novellas waiting to be started/continued/finished. Let’s see if I can best my own record for Most Things Finished In A Calendar Year. I’m shooting for two novels, a novella, and maybe a short story or three. I also want to be more diligent about updating this here Interblogs page on a regular basis.

May you all have a great 2014!

daddy used nintendo 2ds. it’s super effective!

How do you glue a first-grader to the couch? You give her a Nintendo 2DS for Christmas:

20131226_140328525_iOS

She hasn’t moved from that spot since yesterday morning.

We had a low-key Christmas here at Castle Frostbite. No house guests, just the four of us and the doggens. We had our traditional Christmas feast of Surf & Turf (lobster and venison steaks), and pretty much fritzed the day away with eating, drinking, playing computer games, and listening to Christmas music. It was perfectly relaxing.

With the kids at home until the new year, I’m taking the week mostly off from work to tackle Mount Unfolded Laundry and tend various overdue projects around the house. We’ll see if I can keep myself from any serious writing productivity until the end of next week.

Speaking of writing, here’s another Buzzfeed list I’m in:

12 Science Fiction books to look forward to in January

I’m pretty excited about LINES OF DEPARTURE, which has turned out extremely well (and which has been rather effusively praised by just about everyone who has read it already.) I can’t wait until you can all get your hands on it—and this time in paperback and audio. MY NOVEL HAS ASSUMED PHYSICAL FORM. <insert sinister, semi-hysterical laughter>

TERMS OF ENLISTMENT will see a new release at that time as well, with a matching new cover and in the same formats. If you’re asking yourself whether to drop the money on the new version: it has a rewritten Chapter 23, new cover art, and numerous smaller edits, corrections, and improvements. Because it’s a 47North book now, I wasn’t able to roll all those changes into the old version that people purchased already, as my publisher considers the new version a Director’s Cut, so to speak. But hey—they paid a lot of people to make a lot of improvements to the book, so I think it’s a justified position. Rest assured that if you choose not to buy the new version of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, you won’t miss anything essential.

Anyway, enough post-Christmas self-promotion. I’m just really excited about this new “making a living by making up stuff” thing, and I want to keep that racket going for as long as I can. Hope you all had a great Christmas and happy holidays, and stay tuned for all the stuff coming out of the Castle Frostbite Magic Daycare & Novel Factory in 2014.

many christmas. such presents. wow.

With all the pre-holiday busywork around the house, I totally forgot that this month is our six-year anniversary as the liege lords here at Castle Frostbite. We came up here in December of 2007, in the middle of the first big snow storm of the season. I got the moving truck stuck at the bottom of the driveway, where it remained for two days. Good times!

2013 was a really good year, easily the best we’ve had since we moved to New Hampshire. We went to Germany in February for a long overdue visit with the family. And then I put the little Space Kablooie novel out in March, and everything else just kind of snowballed from there. A month later, I got a literary agent (the most excellent Evan Gregory at the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency), and a few weeks after that I signed a two-book contract with 47North. I got to see a bunch of my VPXII and other writer friends again at Readercon in July, and the rest of the year was pretty packed with edits and edits and more edits for the two books for 47North. As 2013 careens to a close, I’m busier than ever when it comes to writing, which is awesome.

Like I said on Twitter the other day—I don’t really have anything else left to wish for this year. For 2014, I hope that LINES OF DEPARTURE (out on January 28) does as well as TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, and that I manage to finish the draft of the third novel (called ANGLES OF ATTACK) before the end of spring. And after that? With my schedule free for writing pretty much full-time now, two novels a year sound entirely manageable.

So yeah—2013 kicked ass. I’ll always remember it fondly. Lucky Thirteen, indeed.

puppy play.

 

Henry and Ygraine doing what they do most of the day. (Ignore the messy floor, which I’ve TOTALLY PICKED UP since then.)

This fiber-optic connection kicks ass. That was a 153MB video straight from the iPhone, and it uploaded to YouTube in a minute or so. 50Mbps download speed is very nice, but 25Mbps on the upload makes a great many online tasks a great deal shorter.

ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray.

We had a door put into the back wall of our garage. it has a doggy flap in it, so the dogs can get into the fenced-in yard from the garage without anyone having to let them out through the porch door.

It’s interesting to see the ability of the dogs to adjust to this new entry/exit after five years of being let out through the porch door exclusively. Henry is the smartest of the bunch–he figured it out in a few hours. The others sort of get confused every once in a while and seemingly forget the new door temporarily.

Ban, bless his pointy little head, is as dumb as a bucket of gravel. He just let himself out through the garage flap, but on his journey across the yard his little doggy brain has erased that locational information to reuse the storage capacity or something. Now he’s standing in front of the porch door and barking desperately to be let in. We’ll see how long it takes him to remember/discover the unobstructed door a hundred feet to his left that leads back into the warm house. I suspect I’ll have to get up and let him in by early afternoon so he doesn’t turn into a dogsicle.