New year, new look…

You’re not imagining things: I did change my avatar/profile photo. Temporarily, anyway.

The ginormous coffee mug seems appropriate, considering the novel my clone-sibling and I have been working on lately. (Shortest explanation: the person in charge of the Roald Amundsen‘s interstellar mission drinks a lot of coffee.) The red pen and the copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, on which the ginormous coffee mug rests, should be self-explanatory.

No doubt some people would tell me that even a temporary change in avatar/profile photo is a very bad idea: ‘It’s important to always use the same image because blah blah branding blah.’ Yeah, well, I don’t like that word. And under the circumstances, a term originating in the practice of deliberately marking something by burning it with iron… Thematic elements, kids: sometimes I prefer not to think about ’em unless I’m in the process of writing the story at that moment. (*wonders what his twin is writing at this moment*)

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…And then there was that time when his clone-sibling finished writing the final book in a series.

For reasons unknown to me, I’ve had strains of the Rush song “Bravado” running through my head. (Could be Jon’s fault, could be Jason’s fault… “Thematic elements” and all, y’know?)

Clearly, I thought, this is a sign from Murphy, god of strange coincidence and chaos-for-your-own-damn-good, that I should send an email to LR and tell him that the fifth “Tebrey-verse” novel is nearly ready for humans to read.

So I did. After all, LR stands for loyal reader. (Really, brain? A double-l at the beginning of a word? Okay, so I know whose fault it is that I’ve had that song stuck in my head… *throws something at the elusive Mr. Livingston*) He’s been a fan of Paul’s fiction since forever. He even knows our secrets about where we find some of the inspirations for our stories… *fake-ominous music* So I’m really looking forward to the sound of LR’s brain exploding when he reads this latest book.

I think Paul is not planning to seek beta readers for this novel, but if anyone wants an ARC and promises to read it and leave a review, I’m sure something can be arranged. (There are a handful of people following my blog whose opinions I’d love to have on this novel in particular. Some of the characters in the novel want to know what you think, too — they’re just hesitant to say so.)

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WRITING UPDATE: 12-11-2020

The clone is letting his latest completed manuscript sit until January before he goes back through it with a final round of revisions.

And… he has gone back to working on “that novel,” which has an actual working title now: Necessary Precautions. This has nothing to do with the story, though. Instead, it comes from a quote Paul found from the person one of the starships in the story is named for: Roald Amundsen. Something about, ‘With the necessary precautions taken, adventure may be completely avoided.’ Anyway, Paul says he’s using that working title because it gives him an excuse to call the file “the necessary manuscript,” the way he’d been calling this latest Tebrey novel “the dark manuscript.” (Now, aren’t you sorry you ever asked for some insights into the thought processes of fiction authors? Writers: what a bunch of weirdos!)

He still owes me a 3D CGI model of the Amundsen so Grace can have her friend Shannon make a 3D-printed version of it. And a mission patch from the Amundsen, too. Or a coffee mug with the mission logo from the Amundsen — that would be appropriate, considering the captain has a “worse” coffee habit than I do…

Yeah, I’m in the mood to work on fiction writing now, too. I love this feeling.

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Advice for the Day

Brought to you by unintentional contemplation of Backstory Revision syndrome and a hapless university student who ended up joining the military in a different universe:

Always keep good beer in your fridge, because you never know what sort of supernatural creature may show up to raid it.

To be fair, the “supernatural creature” in question didn’t show up for the express purpose of raiding the refrigerator; it was merely convenient to do so before leaving again. I don’t know if he liked the beer he stole, either; it never even occurred to me to ask. I’m just the uncredited-by-choice co-author, after all, so it’s probably none of my business. (Maybe I should ask, now that I think of it. Perhaps there is additional backstory detail in there somewhere… *shakes head*)

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“What’s the worst thing that could happen…?”

Those of you who read Paul’s novels will be happy to know that he has just passed one hundred twenty-seven thousand words on the first draft of the fifth/final book of The Awakening (a.k.a. the Tebrey novels). He was writing the big finale for the whole series right before he called me to ask my opinion about the minor plot complication (a.k.a. yet another terrible thing to throw at the characters) he’d just thought of.

Unless something changes, he’s gonna have this novel written before the end of the year — before the end of next week, possibly.

Then, he’s going to get back to writing the sequel to Project Brimstone; he has a lot written for that book, too. Working title is Riders on the Storm. Then there’s The Fire Throne, and possibly a prequel for “that novel,” although now Paul is thinking that the events in that story would work better if integrated into “that novel” as flashbacks (we mean that in more than one sense of the term), and I agree. Marrah, Murphy, and the Mad God (a.k.a. the Instrumentality) know there’s more than one character in “that novel” with reason to have flashbacks to events from decades or even centuries earlier.

About that “worst thing that could happen” business… According to Lois McMaster Bujold, part of plotting a good novel is figuring out the worst thing that could happen to a character that they’d survive. Yeah. We don’t have that particular limitation. Someone’s gonna die at the end of this story. More than one someone, actually. But you probably already knew that.

My own criteria for deciding if a specific “worst thing” is right for a story is my emotional reaction to it from outside the story, compared to my emotional reaction when looking at it from the inside. If I get a combination of “Do it!” on one side and “Oh, hell, no!” on the other, then I know it’s perfect.

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First day of December…

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We had a duck in the back yard yesterday morning, hiding in the cats’ den, of all places.

Then we had a duck in the bath tub, because I put it there to keep it safe while we figured out what to do with it.

Then we had a duck in a box in Paul’s Jeep, driving to Clovis to drop the duck off at the zoo. The woman at the zoo told us, “This is the second bathtub duck today.”

The duck was identified as a male of the species commonly known as the redheaded duck. As Grace joked, “Drake. And a redhead. Of course he came to our house…” (There’s a character in Paul’s novels named Daeren Drake — a redhead, as you’ve no doubt guessed.)

Anyway, here are some photos of #bathtubduck:

Grace managed to take a couple photos of the duck when he first came out of the cats’ den:

The duck was really quite well-behaved through everything. He didn’t hiss or try to bite, and he didn’t flail his wings or make a fuss. His attitude seemed to be, “Okay, as long as you don’t try to eat me…” He does have a hurt leg, but it didn’t seem too bad — he can’t run, but he can walk on it — so he’ll probably be healed and going about his business soon. And if not, we’ll see him next year at the zoo.

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Sometimes, real life sucks because of COVID deniers.

Follow-up to what I blogged about on the 6th about my twin being told not to tell anyone where he works that he had — past tense, had it but now doesn’t — COVID-19:

He got his yearly job performance evaluation yesterday. As expected, he got perfect scores in everything from him immediate boss, the person who is the only one supposed to be doing his evaluation.


That HR person who had a conniption fit over Paul answering one person’s direct question about why he’d been away for an entire month? She had wanted Paul to not just not talk about having been sick but to “admit” that he never had COVID. (There are signs up in the halls where he works, by the way, stating that no one working there has had the virus. Those signs went up while Paul was in quarantine.) 

So the HR person went and complained to the general manager, who forced Paul’s immediate boss to write on his evaluation that Paul was being given a demerit for pretending to be sick so he could take time off from work, and for “inciting panic” by even allowing his fellow employees to believe he may have had COVID. (The only person “panicking” at all is the HR person. She insists the virus isn’t real… but she’s terrified of catching it.) At least Paul’s boss made it clear in what he wrote that he disagreed with this and was putting it in Paul’s evaluation only because he’d been ordered to by the general manager.

(Anyone want to guess about the political leanings of the HR person and the general manager? The HR person even said to Paul, ‘You have to admit is looks really suspicious that you [meaning the Democrat] are the only person who has “come down sick” here.’ She’s implying that he faked having COVID-19 — after all, everyone knows the pandemic is fake news invented by those evil libs to make the president look bad, right? — for political reasons.)

So Paul is already looking for a new job. At this point, it doesn’t matter if this current problem gets resolved (which could happen, but he doesn’t expect it to), if he gets the lies removed from his job evaluation and he receives his yearly pay increase as usual… Someone not even in his “chain of command” was allowed to force his boss to put a demerit in his evaluation and claim he deliberately “incited panic” by “lying” and saying that he’d had the virus.

So don’t be surprised if I announce here sometime in the next few months that we’re all packing up and moving to some other town, or even another state. (And hey, Paul can assure any new employer that they don’t have to worry about him catching COVID, because he’s already had it.)




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More kitten photos where those came from…

This is Small. Small is a shy kitten.

Tortie Girl (upper left), Streak, Little Grey, and their grandma (lower left).

Jellybean, another momma cat (and Leftie’s sister).

Blacky, who wants to be a panther when he grows up.

Wednesday again.

Torie Girl and Streak with their grandma.

Fluffy: He’s cute, and he knows it.

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Behold: kitten photos!

Little Grey laying with her head on Fluffy’s belly.

Ginger-kit and Whiskers, the amber-eyed boys.

Leftie, one of the mommas of this bunch.

Wednesday, the TINY cat.

Streak, all white except for a little streak of grey on his head.

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