OryCon and Sci-Fi AuthorFest this weekend

OryCon 37, Portland’s annual science fiction convention, starts today! It’s at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. I’ll be on the following program items:

  • Fri Nov 20 2:00pm: Endings: Cuddling with the Reader in Douglas Fir (3rd floor)
    You’ve just blown your reader’s mind with your story’s climax. Make sure they’ll come back for more–give them a good denouement! with David D. Levine, Erica L. Satifka, Anna Sheehan, Ann Gimpel, Grá Linnaea

  • Fri Nov 20 4:00pm: How to Blurb Your Novel in Sunstone (3rd floor)
    We all need them, we all hate them. Summing up our books may be harder than writing them in the first place! Learn techniques to write compelling book descriptions (aka “blurbs”), and hook readers. with David D. Levine, Jennifer Brozek, Fonda Lee, DongWon Song, Shannon Page

  • Sat Nov 21 12:00pm: Agents Assemble! in Sunstone (3rd floor)
    Do you need an agent in 2015? Find out who to look for, and what they can do for you, from finding a traditional book deal, to selling foreign rights. to landing that elusive film deal…and when to fire one. with David D. Levine, Christy Fifield, Anna Sheehan, John Hedtke, David Boop

  • Sat Nov 21 2:00pm: David Levine Reading in Hawthorne (2nd floor)
    David D. Levine reads from his first novel, “Arabella of Mars.” with David D. Levine

  • Sat Nov 21 3:00pm: Mad Science panel in Salon B (LL1)
    Present preposterous theories for world domination–for everyone’s own good, of course. Panelists expound upon how, with the unlimited funds of a typical archvillain, they would take over the world. with Guy Letourneau, Dan Dubrick, Kristin Landon, David D. Levine, Melinda Hutson

  • Sun Nov 22 11:00am: What I Wish I Would Have Known: Pitfalls for New Writers in Douglas Fir (3rd floor)
    All the things writers should know going in, from craft to scams, and what our panelists wish they’d known. with J. Steven York, SD Perry, Laurel Anne Hill, David D. Levine, J. A. Pitts

  • Sun Nov 22 1:00pm: Turkey Readings in Salon C (LL1)
    It hurts so good–the worst SF/F/H in the universe! with Anthony Pryor, David D. Levine, Brian J. Hunt

After the con, on Sun Nov 22 at 4:00pm, the ninth annual Sci-Fi AuthorFest will be held at Powell’s Cedar Hills. This event, which brings together “a starfleet of science fiction and fantasy authors” — many of whom just happen to be in town for OryCon — for “one galactic booksigning event,” is free and open to the public. I’ll be there and so will a bunch of other cool people. Hope to see you there!

Kate’s Progress: November

It’s been over a month since my last update, but that’s because there hasn’t been a lot of medical stuff to report. This is a good thing.

Kate’s been doing well, getting around with the walker and managing her own blood sugar. We had another MRI, which was basically exactly the same as the previous two. That makes six months with no change, which is good because there’s no new tumor growth but bad because the radiation necrosis isn’t getting any better. Radiation necrosis causes brain swelling, which requires steroids, which cause puffiness and muscle atrophy and irritability and diabetes, which requires insulin, which means a lot of sticking with needles, which increases the irritability. So we really want to do something about it.

As mentioned back in September, there’s a drug called Avastin that can be used to address radiation necrosis. We passed on it then, because it can have nasty side effects (most people have no issues with this drug at all, but a very small percentage have life-threatening problems). A month later, with no additional falls and with an MRI demonstrating no improvement in the necrosis, the balance has changed and we have decided to try it. It is given intravenously (that means 45 minutes in a recliner at the cancer clinic) and we will be doing three doses at two-week intervals. She got the first dose yesterday and has had no side effects whatsoever so far. There are no guarantees in this business, but the oncologist has had very good results with other patients, so we’re hopeful. If it works, we should start to see some improvement fairly quickly. Reducing the steroids and building the lost muscle back up will take months.

Until then, life goes on. The antidepressants are helping me a lot, and I’ve gotten several bits of good writing news which I’m not yet at liberty to divulge. One news item I can share is that my story “Damage” is currently at the top of the Suggested Reading List for the Nebula Awards. This doesn’t guarantee a Nebula nomination — it only means that several SFWA members liked it enough to recommend it — but it bodes well.

Most of our news in recent weeks has been non-medical. We have finally (finally!) finished the seismic upgrade on our foundation, which should make the house less likely to fall down in an earthquake and, as an added bonus, resulted in a thorough decluttering of the basement. We have seen a lot of excellent local theatre. I attended the Oregon Writers Colony’s Stumptown Lit Fest and read at the Annual Reading of Oregon Jewish Writers. We also dealt with an invasion of ants, a pretty major plumbing issue, and necessary maintenance on the furnace. We both traveled to Saratoga Springs, NY for the annual World Fantasy Convention, after which we visited my dad in Milwaukee for a few days. The convention was worthwhile — for me it mostly involved hanging out with writers and editors in the bar and in a series of very good restaurants — and my dad, who is 83, is doing quite well. OryCon, the Portland science fiction convention, starts tomorrow, and we’ll both be attending that. Hope to see some of you there.

Thanks to Shannon, Brenda, Ron, Janna, Felicity, Arashi, Bo & Don, Ann, JoLyn, Mark, Mara & Ian, Pam, Michelle & Pat, John, and everyone else who helped out, came for a visit, or shared a meal. We’ve been doing this for nearly a year now (the diagnosis was 11/22/14) and your support is more important than I can say.

Kate’s Progress: September

September was mostly about recovering from what happened in August.

As you may recall, in August Kate was diagnosed with steroid-induced diabetes, spent four days in the hospital because of it, and was prescribed insulin to deal with it. Then, while I was at Worldcon, she had a pretty nasty fall on the sidewalk by the library.

In September she wound up having a root canal on one of the teeth that was damaged in the fall. The anesthesia for that was pretty traumatic, but once that was done the root canal itself was no problem at all. After the fall she also noticed a weird “thing in her nose” — neither the oncologist nor our GP knew what it was, but we got a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (the only doctor I have ever actually seen use one of those round mirrors on a headband that doctors always have in cartoons) who said it was a deviated septum, basically a “buckle” in the cartilage of her nose. This is annoying but not a serious problem; it can be corrected but would require surgery, general anesthesia, and a night in the hospital so we are leaving it alone for now. Apart from those issues, and some remaining bruising, she’s completely recovered from the fall.

However, in addition to that fall she’s had several others — none resulting in injury, but still very disquieting — and so, on the stern advice of our naturopath, she’s started using a walker. Not one of those ugly gray ones with the tennis balls, though; this one is shiny and purple and has four wheels. With the walker her balance, range, and speed are greatly improved.

We also looked into using a drug called Avastin to address the radiation necrosis that’s visible on Kate’s MRI scans (and which contributes to the swelling that requires the steroids that cause the diabetes which requires the insulin that lives in the house that Jack built). It turns out that, although most people have no problems with this drug, a few patients have what the oncologist called “catastrophic” (i.e. life-threatening) side effects. We decided to pass on this drug unless the necrosis gets worse or the cancer recurs.

Kate’s energy and initiative have improved considerably as we get away from the last round of chemo (July), and the tremor and foot drag have also gotten better. She is doing her own blood sugar tests and insulin injections, and her glucose levels seem to be well under control. She does still have some aphasia and short-term memory issues, but all in all things are not bad right now.

As for me, I’m… well, I haven’t been coping as well as I would like. I’ve started taking an antidepressant called Celexa, which should help, but it will take a few weeks to have its full effect. It also helps that the release date, publicity quotes, and gorgeous cover for my novel have been revealed. You can see them at (click on the cover thumbnail there for a bigger version).

Thanks to Ann, Mark, John, Dave & Merilee, Ruth, Shannon, Arashi, Michelle, Melissa, Paul, Sara, Cynthia, Bill & Lynn, Teresa, Ulrika, Nancy, Sam, Mara, Melissa, and everyone else who came for a visit, brought food, did dishes, or otherwise helped out. You are keeping us sane, to the extent possible under the circumstances, and it is greatly appreciated.

“Wreck of the Mars Adventure” on StarShipSofa

You can now hear me read my “Captain Kidd on Mars” novelette “The Wreck of the Mars Adventure” on episode 405 of the StarShipSofa podcast. This story was originally published in anthology Old Mars, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and is a prequel to my forthcoming novel Arabella of Mars.

ARABELLA OF MARS cover and release date!

I am very pleased to announce that Tor has revealed the cover and release date for my first novel, Arabella of Mars. Here is the fabulous cover, by artist Stephan Martinière!

Arabella cover

The book will be released on July 12, 2016, and it is already available for pre-order from Powell’s and Amazon. You can also order it from your local independent bookseller. The ISBN is 9780765382818 for the hardcover and 9781466889491 for the ebook.

The Amazon page also features some of the excellent blurbs I have received, from Mary Jo Putney (“a real page turner”), Pat Murphy (“rollicking interplanetary adventure”), Patricia Rice (“Regency space opera in its best form”), Madeleine Robins (“So. Much. Fun!”), Tina Connolly (“a delightfully detailed airship adventure”), Kurt Busiek (“a non-stop adventure packed with thrills, charm and surprises”), Ellen Klages (“genre-bending thrills in this Regency whizzbang”), and Kim Stanley Robinson (“a very clever and entertaining start to a memorable saga”).

Finally, I am happy to announce that my copyeditor will be the amazing Deanna Hoak, who was one of my classmates at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop. I’m really looking forward to working with her.

Brief update on Kate

Just a brief update to let you know what’s happened with Kate since she got out of the hospital on Sunday August 16.

First the bad news: while I was at Worldcon, Kate tripped and fell on an uneven bit of sidewalk near the library. Her face and knee got pretty banged up, and they gave her a CAT scan to make sure nothing was wrong inside her head. She also had to have some teeth splinted; the splints will stay on for 6-8 weeks and there might be more dental work needed after that. I have to emphasize that this was nothing Marc could have prevented, and I’m sure it would have gone down exactly the same way if I had been there.

Now the good news: Marc and Kate were kind enough to not call me about the fall until they knew she was stable and I wouldn’t have to come home early from the con. Kate is healing up nicely; the stitches have come out, and the bruises on her face are almost all gone.

She has done very well learning to monitor her blood sugar and give herself her own insulin shots. Her blood sugar numbers are pretty much under control now, and the various symptoms of high blood sugar are almost completely gone. She is definitely done with chemo! And we just got the results of her most recent MRI, and what’s inside her head is stable or somewhat improved (one spot of enhancement we’d been keeping an eye on seems to be gone). From here it’s just a matter of taking it easy and healing, with MRIs every two months to make sure everything is okay.

Thank you to everyone for your support, both practical and psychological. You have no idea how much you have helped already, and continue to do so.

My Worldcon schedule

Following several days of thinking that the Worldcon was increasingly unlikely for me, followed by the unhappy certainty that I would not be able to make it, a generous friend has stepped forward and I can attend the convention after all (though without Kate). And I got back to the program committee before they deleted me from the schedule, so here is where you can find me at the con:

The Best Writing Advice I Was Ever Given
Wednesday 12:00 – 12:45, Bays 111A (CC)
What writing advice have you received that you’d share with others? How did it help make you a better writer?
Bobbie Benton Hull (M), David Gerrold, P. C. Hodgell, David D. Levine, Derryl Murphy

Autographing – Elizabeth Bear, Patricia Briggs, Wesley Chu, Tanglwyst de Holloway, David D. Levine
Wednesday 14:00 – 14:45, Exhibit Hall B (CC)

Reading – David D. Levine
Thursday 13:30 – 14:00, 303B (CC)

Steampunk: Aesthetics vs. Content
Thursday 15:00 – 15:45, 302AB (CC)
Steampunk is known for being pretty, but what about real content? Is it that dramatically different from other genres? Or are most steampunk stories like one genre with a veneer of steampunk?
David D. Levine (M), Matthew Dockrey, Sarina Dorie, Grá Linnaea

Writers Workshop section 05
Friday 13:00 – 16:00, 201A (CC)
Fifty-plus entrants submitted speculative fiction manuscripts in advance to be constructively criticized by industry professionals. In this section, a few of these entrants go on the hot seat to hear what the pros have to say. All workshop sections are closed to non-participants.
David D. Levine, Madeleine Robins, Diana Pharaoh Francis

Kaffee Klatche – David D. Levine
Saturday 13:00 – 13:45, 202B-KK3 (CC)
Join a panelist and up to 9 other fans for a small discussion. Coffee and snacks available for sale on the 2nd floor.

Game of Thrones: Expectations of Gender and Sexuality
Sunday 12:00 – 12:45, Bays 111A (CC)
After five seasons, we have expectatons of Game of Thrones as having a lot of female nudity and graphic violence. But, at the same time, it has some very strong female characters, and, among some of the characters, a more modern view of sexuality. Do these contrasting views work against the show or enhance it? What are some of the bigger surprises?
Perrianne Lurie (M), David D. Levine, Lauren Roy, Valerie Estelle Frankel

Update on Kate – no Worldcon for us (ETA: I can come!)


Extremely generous friend Marc Wells has just stepped forward to take care of Kate while I take his wife Patty to the convention, saying “you and Patty need to be there, I don’t.” Marc has the experience to help Kate with her insulin and I trust him completely.

This is so overwhelming I am in tears. But I will be at the convention.

Original post follows:

The short version: Kate spent four days in the hospital last week, coming home Sunday, and we won’t be able to attend the Worldcon.

The long version: This started over a week ago, with tummy troubles that came and went. Thursday at 1am it was back, even worse, to the extent that I called 911 at 5am; paramedics came, gave her an intravenous drug for nausea, and took her to the ER.

At the ER she got more intravenous drugs and a CT scan, which showed some bowel irritation but nothing major. With the drugs she perked up pretty quickly, but the doctors decided to keep her overnight for tests and observation. They also gave her injections of insulin to bring her steroid-induced high blood sugar down. (We had just started metformin, an oral blood sugar medication. As long as she was in the hospital they decided to use the stronger stuff.)

She stayed in the hospital from Thursday to Sunday. Each day she felt better than the day before, but every night she had trouble in the early AM. Tests for C. Diff, norovirus, Shiga toxin, bacteria, and the most common virus for stomach bugs all came back negative. Finally the enterologist suggested that the symptoms were consistent with “autonomic diabetic neuropathy” — basically, high blood sugar weakens your sympathetic nervous system so that your GI tract doesn’t work right, especially when you’ve been sleeping for hours.

Getting her blood sugar down (from 408 Wednesday to 149 Sunday; normal is 140 or less) and giving her Imodium brought the trouble mostly under control, and she went home Sunday. But her sugar has been so high that metformin isn’t going to cut it, so we will have to inject long-acting insulin every morning, and test her blood sugar and inject the appropriate amount of regular insulin before every meal. Also we need to change our eating habits — reduce carbohydrates, increase fiber, eat more smaller meals, you probably already know this drill. We were already doing pretty well on this score but will need to do even better.

Kate is absolutely not up for travel this week. We considered whether I could go to the Worldcon without her, but with this new and complex drug regimen to manage, plus follow-up visits with the doctor, it doesn’t look as though I can go for even one day. Kate can’t manage this by herself right now, it isn’t something I could ask a friend to do, and I don’t want to leave her with strangers (we would have to find, interview, and hire someone in just a day or two). It might be different if we were more experienced with the routine of blood, drugs, and pointy things, but not in the first week.

So… no Worldcon for us.

To say that I am disappointed would be a severe understatement. Shattered, more like. Also angry, sad, and resentful. Not at Kate, but at the terrible situation we both find ourselves in.

Kate’s progress: July

As faithful listeners will no doubt recall, Kate’s treatment consisted of surgery, six weeks of daily radiation and chemo, a month off, and six months (or more) of monthly chemo. Well, she just finished up her sixth round of monthly chemo and at the moment it looks like that will, indeed, be it. Which is a good thing, as the nausea and fatigue, while never completely debilitating, have been getting a little worse each round and this one was pretty bad. So, even though we’re not out of the woods by any means, we can celebrate the end of treatment for the cancer per se. I hope that as we get further away from chemo Kate will see her energy levels increase and spend less time napping.

This month, though, we learned that steroid-induced hyperglycemia (aka steroid diabetes) is a thing. Diabetes, it turns out, is a condition with multiple causes. Type 1 and type 2 (formerly known as juvenile and adult-onset diabetes) are basically two different diseases, and gestational diabetes is the third well-known cause of the same condition. But there are many other causes, and apparently taking “pharmacologic doses” of dexamethasone for a long time is one of them. This explains Kate’s headaches, dry mouth, and some other symptoms that have cropped up recently.

As with gestational diabetes, usually steroid diabetes goes away along when you stop taking the steroids… but that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, so the oncologist suggested using diet and exercise to try to bring her blood sugar down. We met with a dietician, who recommended whole grains, plenty of colorful vegetables, and a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in every meal and snack… which is basically what we were already trying to do. As for exercise, that’s difficult because of chemo fatigue and steroid-induced muscular atrophy. We will just have to try to be more consistent in eating right and exercising, and see how it goes.

I mentioned last month that we were working with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist. They were all helpful, but all those appointments were tiring, so we decided to discontinue the speech and occupational therapy and continue with the physical therapist every two weeks. (Did I explain the difference between physical and occupational therapy? The line is fuzzy, but basically occupational therapy covers anything you do with your hands and physical therapy is everything else you do with your body. Both occupational and speech therapy can include cognitive stuff.)

However, life continues. We have signed with a contractor to properly bolt the house to its foundation for earthquake resistance; we visited Seattle to hang out with friends and attend a Clarion West party; I’ve been soliciting blurbs for ARABELLA OF MARS (some awesome ones have come in already) and plugging away on writing the sequel; and I recorded an Act of Whimsy video for a charity fundraiser which required having a fabulous English Regency men’s outfit made. I’ll be wearing that outfit for my readings when the book comes out next year.

The bottom line is… we keep on keeping on. Kate is weak, wobbly, fatigued, and has some memory and cognitive issues, and I’m kind of fatigued myself, but we are doing our best to take care of ourselves and each other. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.

Thanks to Janna, Mark, Cynthia, Kate & Glenn, Hal & Ulrika, John, Shannon, Tempest, Elsa, Elizabeth, Cole, Melissa, Michelle, Len, John, George & Brian, Page, Tina, and everyone else who came for a visit, helped with a task, or joined us for a meal. It may not seem like much, but it really helps.

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

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:

I hope you enjoy the video, but more importantly I hope that you donate to help Nora and Bob at Thank you for your consideration.