He’s home among his family again, where he belongs. I feel a little better now. 

personal effects.

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Henry’s collection of bandanas. He got one every time he had to make a trip to the emergency vet. There are three of them in that picture, but I think there was at least one more I did not keep for some reason. As you can see, he was a little mischief magnet.

I am still heartbroken. I have barely eaten since Sunday and have had no desire to eat. (Henry would think this foolishness.) Things have gotten a tiny bit easier, and sorting through his things and looking at his pictures has helped a little. I won’t truly start to get back to real life until his ashes come home and I have some sort of closure.

I don’t want to keep depressing people with posts about my dog, but writing about him and sharing it has helped me to process the whole thing. When it happened, it was just too fast and traumatic to let me feel anything but numbness for a while. Still, everything in the house reminds me of the fact that he’s no longer there, and it will take time before it doesn’t feel like a fresh wound anymore.

Dogs. To think we opened our home and our hearts to these creatures that can wound us so very much when they take their leave. People have suggested we go and get another dog once we feel the time is right, but we have other dogs. Just having another dog is not the point, and never was. Henry was that once-in-a-lifetime dog for me, the one you bond with above and beyond all the others, the one that has your heart in a way the other dogs don’t quite manage. Before Henry, you could have asked me “Has there been a special dog in your life?”, and I would have answered, “What are you talking about? They have all been special.”

Now I can say, “Yes, and his name was Henry, and there will never be another one like him.”

And I don’t want to try and look for the thing we had in another dog. It happened on its own, not because I sought it out, and trying to duplicate it would be a disservice to him and diminish our bond, and it wouldn’t be fair to the new dog because this is a pair of shoes no other dog can ever hope to fill. (Or tear to shreds, as the case may be.)

No, I think I’ll leave it be, and rest in the knowledge that I had my time with him, and that I was lucky to have had it.

losing one’s heart.

Henry’s death is hitting me hard.

We’ve lost dogs before, and I grieved for them every time, but this one is a deeper hurt that any of the others. The ones we lost before Henry had been barely born, or they were old and had long and happy lives behind them. Even Sam, my Golden Retriever who died accidentally back in 2002, was nine years old and had lived almost a full life. Henry hadn’t even come into his own as an adult dog yet—he was barely three, and still infused with the vigor and hotheadedness of youth.

I can’t really pinpoint what hurts the most about his untimely death. It’s the sum of all the contributing factors, I suppose. Part of it is the speed of his decline. There was no time for me to even prepare for the possibility that he might not come back.

Part of it is the bond I had with him. He was truly my dog, and I was his favorite human, and he loved me deeply. Sitting in this chair, I won’t ever see him rounding the kitchen corner again and then just taking a quick sprint and an effortless leap into my lap (whether I was working or not), for the customary expression of love where he tried to merge his face with mine and nip at my nose.

Part of it is the way in which we went. I was there at the end, but I will always hate the fact that he got to spend the last two days of his short life in a place he didn’t like, with people he didn’t love. I should have been with him then.

Part of it is the knowledge of all the time that was taken from him. After having suffered through this winter with the rest of us, he won’t get to experience spring again, won’t get to lie on the warm patio stones with the other dogs and joyfully bark at passing bicyclists and joggers. We won’t get to walk out in the autumn air again, just him in his chest harness and me holding the leash and letting him map the world with his nose.

The house is much too quiet now. All the activity that used to annoy me a little when I was trying to work—the scurrying, the probing of cabinet doors for an unlatched one, the patrolling of the kitchen for dropped food—all of it has ceased. The three remaining dogs are snuggled up in front of the pellet stove and quietly napping. Little Ygraine keeps looking for her playmate and protector on occasion, and it breaks my heart all over again because we got her as a companion for him, and he’s gone, and she will be all alone when the two old dogs are gone too.

I have a deadline, so I have to go back to work and write, and maybe it will take my mind off thinking about my little buddy, who will never sit on my lap and look out of the window for squirrels again. But I go back to work with a broken heart. It will come back together in time, as it usually does, but a piece of it will be gone for good, and it will have the shape of a stout, happy, smart, and loving black-and-red dachshund.

obligatory 2014 recap.

I really like it when I type up an end-of-year retrospective blog post and find that I really didn’t have a damn thing to complain about in the past twelve months.

2013 was great. 2014 was even better by every measurable metric except for the fact that I didn’t get to see my family in person again this past year. Other than that, things have continued to go swimmingly here at the Castle Frostbite Magic Daycare & Novel Factory. I had a novel published in January (Lines of Departure), and both Frontlines novels have continued to sell exceedingly well all year. Robin quit her job in the spring to stay at home and be my support staff full-time, and we find that we both really enjoy this arrangement, because MY GOD WHO WOULDN’T. I am keenly aware just how damn lucky I am that my writing can support a family of four when most writers I know have day jobs and often spouses with day jobs. THANK YOU, old and new readers, for buying all these books, because it means I don’t have to do anything else to fill the pantry, and I’ll get to crank out more books more often.

I got to do a writing retreat with friends for a week down in North Carolina, which was a booze-soaked week of fun and a nice tribal gathering of sorts. I went to Boskone in February and Readercon in August, both local cons where I get to hang out with friends and recharge the social capacitors. Then I got to do my first ComicCon in October in NYC, which was a lot of fun and also a little overwhelming, but mostly awesome. I signed books, met new fans, and connected with old and new friends.

(Side note: sipping cocktails on your publisher’s dime while chatting with your writer pals at midnight just a few blocks away from Times Square will definitely serve to make you feel like a REEL WRITUR for a little while.)

Also in October, I got to hold a little talk at the Army Chief of Staff’s Strategic Studies Group down in Washington, D.C., and that was certainly a novel experience. It went very well, the SSG fellows seemed to enjoy my stay, and I found that a.) I’m not bad at talking to a room full of people for a few hours, and b.) I want to do this sort of stuff more often. Like a reading or a signing, it’s a public performance of sorts, and even though I am an introvert, I enjoy having to switch on the performing persona for a limited and predictable amount of time. My convention dance card isn’t full yet for 2015, but I am leaving myself room on the schedule for a BEEG EEMPORTANT RESEARCH TREEP sometime in the second half of 2015. I will, however, be at Readercon in Burlington, MA in July just like every year, and I’ll be an adjunct instructor at the Paradise Lost workshop in San Antonio in April.

So, yeah–2014 was all sorts of sweet, especially on the professional front. I hope 2015 continues the trend. I’ll have another novel out on April 21, and there’s enough stuff in the works right now that it’s possible you may see another novel from me in 2015. Let’s see how it goes.

I hope your 2014 was a good one, and if it wasn’t, may 2015 crank the Awesome to 11 for you. Happy New Year to all of you.

christmas rituals.

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Girl child relaying her order form to Helper Santa #2,171.


She asked for, and I am not making this up, “a real invisibility cloak that also lets you fly.”

While I doubt the instant availability of such an item in local stores (or even on Amazon Prime), I have to admire her ability to cut right through the clutter and reach for the stars when it comes to gift requests. Aim high, my daughter. Always aim high.

hey, look. it’s july already.

Wow, will you look at that calendar? Seems like we’re a week into July already. 

I’m still writing on the third Frontlines novel, which was TECHNICALLY DUE LAST MONTH. Erm. Let us not speak of this right now and continue on to other subjects. (I’ll be done soon, I promise.)

Team Munchkin Wrangler just got back from a  two-week trip to see the in-laws in North Carolina. The new Dogevan performed splendidly. Lots of storage and cargo space for all the clothes and gifts we ferried south, a built-in entertainment system to keep the kids happy on the 16-hour drive south, a built-in GPS system to keep me from having to rig my iPad up on the dash, and 280 ponies under the hood to gallop up a highway on-ramp and merge into fast-moving traffic without breaking a sweat. And the driver’s seat in the new van has electrically adjustable lumbar support, which is the berries for comfort.

The trip went well, but the environment at my in-laws wasn’t exactly conducive to productivity, to put it mildly. I got a fair bit written, but not nearly as much as I had hoped, so now I’m back on crunch time schedule at home so I can get this thing finished ASAP. 

Readercon is coming up next weekend, which is my main Nerd Social of the year. I get to see my friends and hang out with fellow SF/F folks. There is drinking and hanging out, attending readings and panels, and going out to the now-traditional greasy spoon breakfasts and barbecue dinners together. If you’re going to be at Readercon and you see me around, feel free to walk up and say hello. I promise I won’t try to hand-sell you any books or anything.


Happy New Year, friends and neighbors!


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:


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.

the considerable awesomeness of rainbows.

Two weeks until school starts again. My weirdo offspring are EXCITED about the start of school. I am planning to have their DNA tested next week.

We went to Canobie Lake last week. It's an amusement park in southern NH–not quite Six Flags, but pretty decent, and manageable in one day unlike, say, the Rat Kingdom in Orlando. I dropped $120 on admission for two adults and two kids. Then I took out another $100 in cash for food and such (“just in case”), and ended up spending every last dime of it. EAT YOUR TEN-DOLLAR NACHOS AND CHEESE FRIES, KIDS.

But hey, it was fun. The kids went on rides with their friends for five hours straight, and at the end of the day they were so amped they practically hummed like overwound springs.

Rainbows are Kind Of A Big Deal when you're six.


ham and cheese.



The goober on the left has her last day of Kindergarten today. The goober on the right has his last day of second grade. Kids in Upper Cryogenica have to make up lots of snow days, which in some years can mean they won’t graduate until late July.

These kids? They’re freaks of nature. They love school, and both are bummed that the school year is ending. I expect that’s going to change by middle school at the latest.

(There’s this girl on their bus who always has the same hopelessly resigned expression on her face, like she’s being shipped off to the gulag every morning. I think I know now why the bus driver really seems to enjoy having my chipper and chatty kids board her bus.)

Next up: five weeks of SUMMER CAMP. Because they have to learn how to swim, the great outdoors never hurt anyone except when they drown or get eaten by bears, and being bug-bitten while baking in the summer sun builds character.