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An Act of Whimsy to benefit Nora and Bob

A couple of months ago, my friend Mary Robinette Kowal contacted me for help. Nora and Bob, friends of hers from the Oregon Regency Society, were involved in a horrific car accident far from home. They both barely survived and wound up in the ICU, with terrible fractures and multiple surgeries. They have insurance, but obviously neither of them is able to work and they will certainly burn through the insurance money before they are well. So their friends set up a fundraiser at http://www.gofundme.com/Nora-Bob.

Mary asked me to help publicize the fundraiser by contributing an Act of Whimsy — something to amuse Nora and Bob, make people laugh, and engage the community. She suggested that I read a scene from my Regency interplanetary airship adventure novel Arabella of Mars (coming from Tor in June 2016). I considered reading it wearing a Regency dress, but after some discussion with Mary and ORS member Julia Grim, we thought that might be disrespectful. So Julia very kindly donated her labor and made me a complete Regency gentleman’s ensemble.

It all took a while, but now the ensemble and the video are done, and you can see them both right here (YouTube link: https://youtu.be/HLMV0eH-9hg).

I hope you enjoy the video, but more importantly I hope that you donate to help Nora and Bob at http://www.gofundme.com/Nora-Bob. Thank you for your consideration.

Meet me at the old abandoned paper mill (photos)

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This weekend I took a hard-hat tour of the former Blue Heron Paper Mill in Oregon City.

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We started off with a brief introduction by Dr. John McLoughlin (1784–1857) who gave us a little history of the site. Oregon City was once the capital of the entire territory (San Francisco’s plat was filed here, and is still on display in the city museum) and this site was one of the area’s first industrial facilities. A sawmill was the first use of the river’s power, followed by a grist mill, a salmon processing plant, one of the country’s first municipal power plants, and finally the Blue Heron Paper Mill, which went bankrupt in 2011. The facility has stood vacant ever since.

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Eric (center), an intern for Metro, was our guide for the rest of the tour. The site is currently in the design phases for redevelopment. “Long-term plans include a public riverwalk along the edge of the Willamette River and a thriving, connected, downtown Oregon City with room for housing, public spaces, habitat restoration, education and employment.”

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Many aspects of the site stand exactly as they were when the mill shut down. Others have been salvaged (the giant paper-making machines are all gone) or are substantially decayed.

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Leverage, Grimm, and The Librarians have all filmed here, and in fact The Librarians was filming that day. Any scene you’ve seen in any of those shows that took place in an old abandoned factory was likely filmed here.

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You might recognize this “Die Impuro” graffito from an episode of Grimm. The site was otherwise surprisingly free of graffiti.

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My main interest in the tour was a photo opportunity for many cool images of industrial decay. I can’t tell you very much about what you are seeing in most of the rest of these images, except that they struck me with their crumbling beauty.

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OWC Lit Lounge 7/15: Writing a Fiction Series

At the Oregon Writers Colony Literary Lounge on July 15, 2015, authors David D. Levine, Cindy Brown, and Angela Sanders will discuss and answer questions about writing a fiction series. They will also talk about working with big publishing houses, small presses, and self-publishing. Ed Goldberg of All Classic Radio will moderate.

The event happens from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 15 at the June Key Delta Community Center, 5940 N Albina Street, Portland, Oregon.

A publication, a translation, two podcasts, and a reprint! And a publication date! And paper books!

What with everything else that has been happening, I have been absolutely terrible at posting my writing news lately.

  • A new hard SF story of mine, “River of Ice,” was published at the Chinese website SF Comet in Chinese and English.
  • My Bigfoot story “Primates,” which originally appeared in Asimov’s, was podcast at The Overcast, read by me!
  • My dog story “I Hold My Father’s Paws,” which originally appeared in Albedo One, has been reprinted in the furry anthology ROAR 6.
  • My Venus Noir story “The End of the Silk Road” was requested by the StarShipSofa podcast, also to be read by me, and will appear there some time soon… once I finish editing it.

I suppose the good news here is that things that would have had me over the moon when I was starting out as a writer now happen so frequently that I can forget about them for weeks at a time. I’ll try to be better about posting writing news when it happens.

Speaking of which… did I mention that I have a publication date for Arabella of Mars? I do, and it is June 2016. This is a much longer lead time than usual, to accommodate my life circumstances, and because we have so much time until publication Tor printed up some bound manuscripts to send to writers when requesting blurbs. (And the blurbs are coming in now, and they are fabulous, and I can’t wait to share them with you.) These are even earlier and cruder than Advance Reading Copies (ARCs); they are just my own un-edited words, printed and bound in plain paper covers. But still… real books! And I got five of them!

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Given that the book doesn’t come out for an entire year, I’m not sure how to use these bound manuscripts to publicize it effectively. Any ideas?

Kate’s progress: June

IMG 4552Things are going pretty well around here. In the last two weekends we attended the Locus Awards in Seattle and the Westercon in San Diego, and both were fun, if quite laid-back for us. I was on a lot of programming at the Westercon; Kate attended a couple of program items a day and spent much of the rest of the time napping or relaxing in the room. But we had many fine meals, hung out with friends, and enjoyed the weather (paradoxically, San Diego was a refreshing 68 degrees and overcast while Portland was an unpleasant 90+ degrees and sunny).

Kate had another bi-monthly MRI, which was almost identical to the previous one. Although we had hoped to see some healing, given the typical behavior of this type of tumor “no news” is definitely good news. She has also completed another round of chemo — round 5 of 6 planned monthly doses, and at this point the doctor still thinks we will stop after round 6 — with minimal side effects. Her biggest problems now are muscular weakness (from the steroids), fatigue (from the chemo), and memory issues (most likely from the radiation), and we’re working with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech/cognitive therapist to try to improve those. Her speech and right-side weakness seem to be better than in previous months, but it’s hard to say… the improvement is very slow and subtle, and not on a constant upward slope.

In general, it’s hard to say whether she’s doing better or worse overall. By comparison with the first few months after the surgery, her energy, mood, and ability to communicate are substantially better. But the fatigue and weakness are worse, the memory problems are new and frustrating, everything varies depending on time of day and energy levels, and we don’t know whether or not to expect them to get better. What progress there is, is sometimes hard to observe. We persevere.

Thanks to Geri, Janna, Mark, Cynthia, Teresa, Ariel, Page, and everyone else who’s come by for a visit. We are almost always open for callers. Also, Kate would love to get out of the house more, so if you can come by to take her to a park (in the morning when it isn’t too hot) or shopping or any such thing, please do contact me.

Announcing the release of Managing Mailing Lists with Mailman

“Managing Mailing Lists with Mailman,” the second of two video courses I recorded last month for lynda.com, the online training company, has just been released. Here’s the first video in the course:

Here’s the course description:

Mailman is an open-source alternative to commercial mailing list managers and it’s administered through an accessible web-based interface. This course will show you how to administer and operate Mailman, and start maintaining subscriber lists of your own. Author David D. Levine covers navigating in Mailman, configuring replies and notifications, adding and removing subscribers, and setting up the interface where subscribers view their list options. He also covers adjusting privacy controls, moderating posts, controlling archiving, and managing lists via email.

Topics include:

  • Creating lists
  • Setting basic list attributes
  • Managing mass subscriptions and renewals
  • Sending and receiving lists messages via email
  • Using Mailman’s digest mode
  • Viewing and managing archives
  • Setting max message size and other options
  • Controlling bounce processing
  • Approving and rejecting posts by email
  • Managing attachments and formatted messages

If you or your employer or institution are a lynda.com subscriber, you can watch the whole course as part of your subscription. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can can watch a half-dozen chapters for free, and sign up for a free trial of the whole lynda.com training library, here:
http://www.lynda.com/Hardware-tutorials/Managing-Mailing-Lists-Mailman/360737-2.html

I’m an OWC Writing Contest “celebrity judge” — deadline 6/22!

I have been invited as the “celebrity judge” (?!) for the Fiction First Chapter category of the 2015 Oregon Writers Colony Writing Contest. The contest is open to both OWC members and nonmembers, regardless of state or national residency, and the deadline to enter (electronic submission or postmark) is June 22, 2015.

The contest has four categories:

  • First chapter, fiction, up to 3500 words
  • First chapter, narrative nonfiction, up to 3500 words
  • Short story, fiction, up to 2500 words
  • Short story, narrative nonfiction, up to 2500 words

Cash prizes will be awarded in each category! See http://oregonwriterscolony.org/writing-contest/ for more information and the entry form. Good luck!

Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera release, podcast, and poll

Year s Best Military SF and Space OperaAs you may recall, my “Venus noir” story “The End of the Silk Road,” set in the same universe as “The Wreck of the Mars Adventure” and my forthcoming novel Arabella of Mars, was selected for The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera. Well, the anthology is now available! You can get it from Powell’s, Amazon.com, and everywhere else books and ebooks are sold.

With an introduction by best-selling military science fiction author David Drake and selected by editor David Afsharirad from the top short story markets in the field, here are the most thrilling, pulse-pounding, and thought-provoking stories of the past year. Stories of future military men and women, space opera on a grand scale, and edge-of-your-seat adventure tales in the pulp tradition, from giants of the genre to brilliant up-and-comers.

To celebrate the release, the Baen Free Radio Hour podcast is offering an interview with the editor of the anthology and several of the contributors, including Matthew Johnson, Derek Kunsken, Linda Nagata, and Michael Z. Williams as well as myself. You can listen to the episode here, or download the MP3 here.

Been is also trying something new with this first annual Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera — it is not only an anthology but also the shortlist for the first annual Year’s Best Military Science Fiction and Space Opera Award, which comes with a plaque and a $500 prize. And the winner will be selected by you, the readers! You can vote online here (or, if you prefer, you can send your vote by mail to an address found on that same page). Voting closes August 31, 2015; the winner will be announced at DragonCon.

Announcing the release of “SED Essential Training”

Last month I traveled to Southern California to record two more video courses for lynda.com, the online training company. It was an enjoyable experience, as always, and I’m pleased to say that both of the courses will be released this month.

The first, “SED Essential Training,” is already live. Here’s the first video in the course:

Here’s the course description:

SED is the one of the original command line tools for parsing and transforming data on Unix, Linux, and Macintosh machines. David D. Levine helps you unlock the power of SED’s compact syntax in these lessons, which cover extracting, transforming, and manipulating data in files and data streams. He reviews the basic commands, including one you’ll never want to forget, and shows how to work with regular expressions. The course also covers SED’s more advanced programming features, which allow you to write simple programs and manage multiline pattern space, flow, and the hold buffer with a few simple keystrokes. Start here to learn the essentials of this versatile tool.

Topics include:

  • Understanding input, output, files, and pipes
  • Modifying the “s” command
  • Using character classes and quantifiers
  • Controlling printing
  • Reading and writing files
  • Appending, inserting, and editing entire lines
  • Writing programs in SED
  • Using advanced programming commands

If you or your employer or institution are a lynda.com subscriber, you can watch the whole course as part of your subscription. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can can watch a half-dozen chapters for free, and sign up for a free trial of the whole lynda.com training library, here:
http://www.lynda.com/course-tutorials/SED-Essential-Training/359472-2.html

Kate’s progress: May

It’s now a little more than six months since Kate’s surgery, and she’s doing pretty well.

Her progress has not been uniform. We haven’t messed with the steroid dose, so there has been no significant backsliding, but at the moment the aphasia, weakness, wobbliness, and lack of stamina are a bit worse than last week — though not nearly as bad as they were in the first couple of months after surgery. She’s just slow, and tires easily, and sometimes has trouble finding words. We think that what we’re seeing now is likely fatigue from last week’s chemo (the fourth of six planned monthly rounds). She hasn’t had any serious chemo side effects, but the fatigue is definitely there and tends to hit hardest in the week after the dose.

One issue that is new since last month is what she describes as “holes in her head,” or general memory and cognitive issues. We were warned that there could be short-term memory problems appearing some months after radiation. We’ve started working with Laurel, the speech therapist who was so helpful earlier, on this; she does general cognitive therapy as well as speech. We also have appointments with physical and occupational therapists next week, to work on the weakness and wobbliness. We’re also trying to take lots of walks and do exercise, on the naturopath’s advice that “the more energy you expend, paradoxically, the more energy you’ll have.”

But life is more than just a litany of symptoms. We attended the annual gay square dance convention in St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend, and that was good. Kate wasn’t able to dance, but I did, and we hung out with our friends and had many fine meals. (Our food karma was surprisingly good, given how unprepossessing the neighborhood around the hotel was; I’m very glad we decided to rent a car.) Kate has been industrious about decluttering the house, clearing out all kinds of old sheets, clothes, books, and papers, and has been reading a lot. We’ve also seen some movies and some excellent local theatre, including THE LION and THREE DAYS OF RAIN at Portland Center Stage (both are still playing and are recommended!).

As for me, I traveled to Southern California for a week to record another couple of courses for Lynda.com, one on the “sed” text processing language and the other on the Mailman mailing list manager; those will go live in June. I’ve been plugging away on the sequel to ARABELLA OF MARS — the draft stands at nearly 50,000 words now, out of a planned 90,000 — and beginning to lay plans for the release of book 1 in June 2016. One thing I need to do right now is solicit blurbs for the cover. Whose endorsement would make you more likely to pick up a science fiction book with a historical setting?

The bottom line is that things are generally not too bad, though emotionally we are both occasionally down. One thing we need to do more of is to get together with friends. In the first few months we had house guests and visitors galore, but lately it’s been just us more often than not, and that can be kind of isolating. So if you can come by for a chat, or join us for a meal, or go out for a walk in the park, or anything like that, please drop me a line and see if we can find a time that works for everyone. If you’re not local, a card, letter, email, or phone call would be welcome too.

Thanks to Mary Kay for helping Kate while I was in California, and to Amanda, who helped Kate when I took a brief respite trip to Seattle. We also got visits from Zoe and Patty, Debbie and Alan (who brought a delicious casserole), Ariel, Mark, and probably others I’m forgetting, and moral support from Janna, Greg, Mary, Shannon, and many others. Thank you so much for your continued support.