Death of a Cherry Tree

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This past Monday, city workers came to cut down a cherry tree near our house. It had been there for years.

We found out later that a neighbor had complained that leaves falling in her backyard were a nuisance to clean. The fact that local children (and adults alike) treasured the cherry blossoms each spring seemed to escape her.

And cherry blossom viewing season is just around the corner. What a shame. A waste.

More’s the shame, I only have two pictures of the tree in full bloom.

Fleeting moments, lost in time and memory.

My children wrote a heartfelt letter to the tree, and I taped it as best I could to the stump:

“To the Cherry Tree,

For always showing your cherry blossoms to us until now, thank you.

We miss you, but we’ll never forget that this stump is the stump of a cherry tree.

If this stump ever grows, we want to see cherry blossoms again.”

Stories are made by fools like me…

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The beating of my hideous heart!

So much for my New Year’s resolution of writing more regularly on my blog.

I can blame “writer’s block,” which is sometimes just a convenient excuse for general laziness and sometimes stems from a genuine fear of being entirely uncreative and uninnovative.

(My software program tells me that uninnovative is not a real word. Well, now it is. So there.) Continue reading

A post about nothing in particular

Is it wrong to post something when nothing’s really been going on?

Well, not exactly nothing nothing. What I mean is, nothing particularly special.

Just work, family, day to day routines.

Influenza. Type B. (Not me, my daughter.)

Preparing materials for class. Doing it again. And again.

Trying to write. Failing epically. Zoning out on YouTubes on Ancient Greece and the Hittites (I’m on a big Hittite kick right now for some reason).

Finally getting to see the new Blade Runner at a friend’s house on Bluray (with kids it’s almost impossible to watch movies I want to see).

Practicing guitar for the first time in nearly a year. Then doing it every day a week straight. For 10 minutes at a time. (Before being told “Daddy, that’s noisy.”)

Yeah. Nothing in particular. Just life, I guess.

2017: Year in Review

KomainuThis past year was an eventful one, to say the least!

By January, my science fiction novella/novellette Adam’s Stepsons, which I had come back to after a long ( ~ 18 year!) hiatus, had already been rejected by three separate SF magazines. So I made the decision to go the self-publish route.

But before that, I sought out some advice from a fellow self-publisher, Greg Spry, whose debut novel I very much admired (Beyond Cloud Nine). He pointed out several areas to be corrected/emended/improved and although I initially resisted further changes, I soon realized that he was right.

Lesson 1 learned: Always listen to advice about your writing. It helps. Continue reading

Month of the Gods – or Without?

Month of the Gods – or Without?

It’s been a very trying month, and yet rewarding.

finalistAt the beginning of the month, I found out that my science fiction novella/novellette Adam’s Stepsons had won an award (Readers’ Favorite). The next day, I was selected as a Featured Author by BookWorks. And then less than a week later, Adam’s Stepsons got another award, this time Finalist for Best Novella by the Independent Authors’ Network. Inspired, I worked on my next SF novel and got the word count up to around 25,000.

Pretty cool.

And then it started to rain.

And rain.

And kept raining. For about eight to nine days straight. Mold everywhere in the house: the entranceway, the hall, the bath, the kids’ bedroom, even our little library nook (which doubles as my writing room/man cave).

Yuck.

And then (not done with us yet!) the typhoon came. No damage for us but plenty for some of my colleagues and neighbors up north in Kyoto and Gifu.

Typhoon22Our daughter’s sports festival – her last at the nursery school, in which she gets to play snare drum in a marching band – was delayed, and then cancelled.

Then both kids got sick. Waking up several times a night, coughing with stuffy noses, and still having to get up early each morning (6 – 6:30) for school and work for all four of us.

The Month of the Gods (神無月) became the Month without Gods (無 = na (of) as well as naki (without)). As if suddenly abandoned.

So it’s fitting that after only two days of sun, October will end with yet another typhoon. Yikes.

Probably a glancing blow, but the heavy rain that accompanies the storm will no doubt scuttle our plans for a Halloween party for our kids and their friends. It may inspire some writing, however.

After all, isn’t that how Mary Shelley started?

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Marquez, the general, and his labyrinth

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When I first started writing the kernel of what ultimately became Adam’s Stepsons, the multiple/mixed genre story The General in His Labyrinth had just been published, by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I’d been searching for character names, desperate not to have them all sounding like the people I knew at the time (i.e., white guys in my rural hometown).

So “Marquez” sounded like a great name. I had a general in the story. General Marquez fit. Why not. Continue reading

Adam’s Stepsons: The Professor and Sam Adams

beerfridgeThe main character of my new SF novella Adam’s Stepsons, Dr. Johann Heimann, was modeled after a professor at my undergraduate college named…ah…let’s name him Professor R. He had the biggest office on campus, and he kept Sam Adams in a small fridge tucked under his desk. And he shared them liberally with students who stopped by. And he told great stories about Chevy Chase. A perfect model for a fictional scientist.

Prof. R. was a teacher of social economics. Which is why he spent all his free time keeping careful track of tiny pieces of paper from the 17th to the 19th century detailing who was responsible for maintaining what part of what county and state roads in nearby towns.

By “careful,” I mean of course hundreds of cardboard boxes haphazardly stacked around his office and often mislabeled or labeled with handwriting so cramped that medical doctors would be proud. Couldn’t help wondering if Sam Adams were to blame. Continue reading