A “Winds of Patwin County” Giveaway

I’m feeling generous now, so I’m doing a giveaway of “The Winds of Patwin County“!

First, I’m offering a free copy of the ebook to anyone who signs up for my “Story of the Week” mailing list. You can sign up here for the list. You will receive the ebook immediately upon signing up.

And second, I’m offering a free trade paperback copy of this novella to the first five people who leave a review (either positive or negative) on either GoodReads or Amazon.

That’s all. I really hope you like my story and will spread the word far and wide about it.

The Winds of Patwin County Cover

Con Report: FogCon 2015

This past weekend, Jennifer and I went to FogCon, a small science fiction and fantasy convention based in Walnut Creek. It was fun — a LOT of fun — but now I am suffering the post-convention blues. Big time. Sigh. Maybe a quick blog post about the con will help me recover.

For one thing, the is probably the first convention in a long time where I haven’t participated in the writers’ workshop. For one thing, I just didn’t get to the application process on time; and, for another thing, I feel pretty sure that I’ve gotten as much out of these workshops as I am going to get.

The highlight of Friday (day one), was a reading which featured my friend Andrea Stewart, who read from her upcoming novel Loose Changeling (which will be available on April 1 from Amazon — check out the Changeling Wars website). Andrea is a fantastic writer. You should definitely check her out and buy her stories and books.

Saturday morning I attended a panel called “The Road”, which was essentially about road stories in science fiction and fantasy, and variations of the theme. It was interesting, and I came away with plenty of ideas for various stories. During the panel, I noted one fellow who had hearing aids that were wired to purple discs that were attached to the sides of his head. I was fascinated by these, but I didn’t have the chance at that panel to ask him about them.

I did meet up with him in the lobby later that day, though. We were headed in opposite directions, but I (probably quite rudely) stopped him and said, “I’m interested in those purple discs attached to the sides of your head. What are they?”

“Oh, they’re cochlear implants,” he said, which I found interesting because I always thought that cochlear implants were internal, not external. We chatted about this for a few minutes, then he looked down at my name badge.

“Wait,” he said. “Richard Crawford?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Richard SCOTT Crawford?”

I looked at him askance. How did this guy know me, and how did he know my middle name? Maybe he was a fan of my writing, though I didn’t think I had any fans outside my circle of friends.

But then he showed me his name badge, and I was delighted to see it was Aahz, a friend of mine from college (though I originally knew him as [REDACTED]). We hadn’t seen each other for almost thirty years, and meeting him at the con seemed pretty random. He introduced me to his primary partner, and we had a fun conversation, though we didn’t really get a chance to catch up with each other until Sunday at lunch. Turns out he’s learning how to be a square dance caller, something which I found really interesting; there’s a host of things to know about square dancing, as it turns out; in addition to the basic moves of square dancing I learned in 8th grade at Lawrence Academy, there are something like 100+ moves that each dancer must memorize and execute on the spot the moment it is called out. And the caller has to pay attention to the music, its beats and its melodies and nuances, and call out the most appropriate move. I hadn’t thought there was so much complexity to it.

Sunday afternoon (Jennifer wasn’t able to make it to the con on that day), I went and attended another reading, this time featuring Sunil Patel and Effie Seiberg. Both of them are very talented writers, and I really want to spend money and buy things that they’ve written.

All in all, a great con. I’m looking forward to going back next year.

Oh, and there were guests! Catherynne Valente and Kim Stanley Robinson. And the ghost of Joanna Russ. All of them worthy guests, although I wish I’d gotten a chance to meet up with Ms. Valente to have her sign my copy of The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland. It’s a great book. I recommend it.

Winds of Patwin County Kindle Edition Now Available for Pre-Order

Um… Pretty much what the title of this post says. The Kindle edition of “The Winds of Patwin County” is available for pre-order here. And at $2.99, I think it’s quite a bargain.

The trade edition will be available on May 1. I’ll keep you posted on that.

The Winds of Patwin County Cover

Some writing-related news

First, my Story of the Week thingy. I’ve rebooted it, and decided to start at Number One all over again. For purposes of this project, a story is at least 250 words and has a (mostly) coherent storyline. I sent out the first story, “The Hunt”, today, and hopefully the lucky readers will enjoy it. To sign up for my Story of the Week mailing list, go here. It’s fun!

Second, I’ve just put up a page for my novella, “The Winds of Patwin County“, featuring cover art by the fantastic Amber Feldkamp of Amber Covers. The novella will be available as an ebook on April 1 of this year, and in paperback on May 1. Share and enjoy!

Third, I’m considering setting up a Patreon page so that people can support my writing endeavors. Everyone else is doing it, it seems, and I just want to be cool. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Finally, on an unrelated note, my wife Jennifer and I just got Jawbone Up fitness bands. So if you’ve got one of those, let’s team up! I go under the name Richard Crawford, of course, and there’s a picture of me wearing a fez.

That’s all. Share and enjoy!

Remembering Spock

Like most nerds of a certain age, I grew up watching Star Trek. And, of course, the character I most identified with was Spock (I had a huge crush on Lieutenant Uhura, but that just goes without saying).

I admired Spock. Practically worshiped him. I wanted to emulate him. I tried suppressing my emotions (not very successfully at times); I practiced for hours to raise a single eyebrow like Spock did whenever he was interested in something; and, of course, I trained my fingers to do with the traditional Vulcan salute. I tried combing my hair the same way he did, but that never worked out. In recent years, I’ve even tried to develop a viable worldview based on logic and reason –o’thia — that would pretty much solve the world’s problems (like Surak did in Diane Duane’s novel Spock’s World). I never succeeded, obviously.

Much has been written about why the character of Spock appeals to nerds everywhere. Even President Obama wrote, “Before nerdery was cool, there was Spock”. His appeal is due to his status as an outsider who still an important player. His ability to employ reason and logic over emotion, while still occasionally falling victim to his half-human emotional side, certainly is attractive.

And Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed Spock pretty much his entire life, and whose credentials as an actor, director, and poet are beyond dispute, was, by all accounts, a kind and generous man who gave of his time and self to others. He served in the Army, fought against the Vietnam War, championed equal pay for equal work for Nichelle Nichols, and so on. He was definitely someone that we can all respect and admire, and rightly so.

His last post to Twitter was poignant. He had been suffering from COPD for over a year, and I have no doubt that he knew his time was nigh.

He lived long. He prospered. May we all do likewise.

A Wee Whine

I need to update my website.

I need to rebuild the Holidailies.org website from scratch.

I need to rebuild the Stonegoose wishlist server from scratch.

I need to complete my advanced PHP/SQL course

I need to learn Ruby and Ruby on Rails

I need to learn all about Amazon Web Hosting services

I need to write a blurb for “The Winds of Patwin County”

I need to finish up my Swords Vs. Cthulhu story

I need to write a synposis of “Code Monkey”.

I need to learn Drupal.

I need to import all of the old Daikaijuzine.com (WordPress) articles into the new Daikaijuzine.net (Drupal) website.

I think I’ll go read some comic books.

The Elegant Cephalopod

This past weekend, in spite of my bronchitis, we went down to Monterey for a few days. Well, technically, Castroville (which was where the vacation house was). We left after Jennifer got off work (I had called in sick because of the aforementioned bronchitis), and drove down that night. We arrived at about 9:30 at the house where our friends were already waiting for us.

That first night, we really didn’t do much. We sat around and chatted, then I used my nebulizer (again: bronchitis), and then we went to be.

The next day, we went into Monterey itself. We had breakfast at a place called Caffe Trieste downtown, and I highly recommend this place. I only had a couple of eggs and some coffee while the others had large breakfasts.

Then, because we’re all a bunch of nerds, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is one of my favorite places in the world. This time there was a special exhibit that really attracted me: Tentacles. I love octopuses, cuttlefish, nautiluses, and other critters like that, so I really wanted to see this. It did not disappoint, though I wished for more — or any, rather — nods to H. P. Lovecraft.

Also, I love penguins. So here’s a picture of some penguins that I took at the Aquarium (click to embiggen):

penguins

It’s nesting season for the penguins, so here’s a too-brief and not-too-high-quality video of penguins moving around. What I wanted to show was a penguin grabbing a pebble in its beak and carrying it up to one of the nesting boxes. We saw several penguins doing that, and, of course, I found it fascinating and adorable.

I took a few other videos at the aquarium, particularly in the jellyfish exhibit (jellyfish are also awesome), but none of them turned out very well, so I won’t share them here. Suffice to say, moon jellies are my favorite jellyfish, and I just love the way a swarm of them move through the water (though I understand blooms of moon jellies can indicate a bloom of algae in the water due to warmth, or even pollution). Sea nettles are also cool.

The sea otter exhibit was fun, of course. Sea otters are the cats of the seas, though they can be vicious little brutes. I also enjoyed the kelp forest exhibit, and was fascinated by the shining swirls of anchovies (or maybe they were sardines — I never figured that one out for sure).

After the aquarium, we went back to the rental house, I nebulized once more while the others went to the beach and wandered around, then we watched Terminator 3. I hate this movie, and none of the others really liked it either, so we had great fun mocking it (she’s got a plasma jet weapon in her hand and she uses a GUN to shoot her targets?!!?). That night, we played two games of Pandemic, a cooperative game where the players attempt to cure diseases before they destroy humanity; I’ve played this game before, but I’ve never played won; this time, we cured all the epidemic diseases, and winning the game was just astounding. Then we played something called Love Letter, and finished the night off with a wonderful — or horrific, depending on your estimation of the game — round of Cards Against Humanity. I nebulized again, the went to bed.

Sunday, we had to be out of the rental house by ten, so we woke up early, showered, packed, and rolled out. We had breakfast at Caffe Trieste again, then wandered a bit around downtown Monterey. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf, ignoring the tourist traps and little shops, and found a place where sea lions were hanging out.

Here’s a picture I took of some sea lions hanging out off Fisherman’s Wharf on Monterey (click to ensealionate):

sealions

After Monterey, we went to Pacific Grove, explored among the rocks, then headed toward home.

That was all this past weekend. Today it’s Monday, and I’m full of thoughts. My bronchitis has improved dramatically (thanks to antibiotics and huge doses of Prednisone), and I had the day off work because of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. So I spent much of the day working on a short story for an upcoming “Swords V. Cthulhu” anthology, then deleting much of what I wrote because I didn’t like it.

I also spent much of the day pondering past interests. I’ve done this before, when I blogged about The Neverending Symphony, only this time I thought about how when I was in high school, I desperately wanted to go into marine biology, and then later in college, into oceanography. College chemistry classes killed these dreams, of course, but a man can ponder them anyway. So now I’m left thinking about the way the Monterey Bay Aquarium and time near the ocean gets me sad about the horrific things we have done and continue to do to the life-sustaining ecology that keeps us alive. Sometime soon I will blog about this as well.

Long story short: I had a blast with my friends in Monterey, and highly recommend taking time away to do this sort of thing. And the Aquarium, of course, is always worth visiting.