AWP 2019, #8046

Mon 25 Mar 2019 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Later this week we’ll be one of a million publishers and journals and writing programs taking part in the bookfair at the annual AWP Conference.

I’ll be at Booth 8046 most of the time; Kelly will be there sometimes (see panels below and the next item), and our kid will be with us, swimming, living in Powell’s if she can, reading under the table, or selling zines . . . !


Due to shipping snafus on my part — ugh, everything delayed by short term sickness, all gone now, phew — some of our books won’t be on the table until Friday, darn it, so Kelly and Ursula went into overdrive and made some zines:

And here are a few things to potentially add to your sched. We will have copies of books by Kelly, Karen, Juan, and Abbey at their table signings.

Say hi if you’re there!

Thursday March 28
1:30 – 2:45 pm
B117-119, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1

R224A. Light is the Left Hand of Darkness: A Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin. (,  ,  ,  ,  Kelly Link) “Truth,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, “is a matter of the imagination.” In 2018, one of America’s greatest science fiction writers passed on, leaving behind a library of literary and social achievements. Through her imaginative narratives, she scrutinized politics, gender, and the environment, creating alternate worlds and new societies as a means to convey deeper truths about our own. This panel celebrates her influential work and pays tribute to her legacy.

Friday March 29

11:00 – 11:30am
Kelly Link
Table signing, #8046

4:30 – 5:45 pm
F149, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1

F310. Speculative Fiction, Genre, and World-building in the Creative Writing Classroom. (,  ,  ,  ,  ) With more and more writers interested in speculative fiction, magical realism, and genre, how can workshops, teachers, and programs embrace all these forms? Panelists who teach in the Clarion Writers Workshop, UCLA Extension Programs, MFAs, and undergraduate programs discuss specific approaches to teaching, including speculative fiction in literary fiction workshops, classes and programs tailored for genre forms, and guiding students to build sound, imaginative, and diverse worlds.

Saturday March 30

10:30 – 11:00am
Karen Joy Fowler
Table signing, #8046

11:00 – 11:30am
Juan Martinez
Table signing, #8046

1:30 – 2:45 pm
B117-119, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1

S219. Getting Home: Writing & Publishing Debut POC Story Collections. (,  ,  ,  ) Finding a home for a story collection is hard. It’s harder still for people of color writing about worlds bypassed by the larger reading public. This panel features debut authors whose collections explore what it means to speculate on racialized experience in the US, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. They discuss how perceptions of identity wind through issues of craft and cultural expectations: What do readers seek in their work? To what degree do authors fulfill or frustrate assumptions?

3:00pm to 3:30pm
Abbey Mei Otis
Table signing, #8046

Boskone 2019

Tue 5 Feb 2019 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

If all goes as planned, from Feb. 15-17 you’ll be able to find me behind a table in the Dealers Room at Boskone in Boston. I haven’t been for a while — I think since our kid was oh-so-tiny and where a very kind Genevieve Valentine let Kelly go take the kid for a nap in her room, so kind!

This year Elizabeth Hand is the guest of honor so we’ll be bringing along copies of her first Cass Neary novel (where’s the TV show for that?) Generation Lost as well as her collection, Errantry. The latter just came back from the printer so if you like your books fresh off the ye olde bigge printing machine get your copy now.

Besides Liz, this year’s Hal Clement Science Speaker will be Vandana Singh, and, again if all goes as planned (weather &c. willing) we will have copies of the second printing of Vandana’s Philip K. Dick Award finalist(!) Ambiguity Machines & Other Stories. Nothing like an in-person appearance to get a book back to the printer. That’s also what’s happened with Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See and Other Stories. I was looking at the AWP schedule (in Portland, OR, in March) and realized we were running very, very low of Karen’s book and since she’ll be doing a signing at our AWP booth that Saturday morning off that book went to the printer, too.

Three reprints, three fab writers, three good books.

Of course we’ll also have our 2 new reprints in Laurie J. Mark’s Elemental Logic series as well as lots of other good books, some old boots (seeing if anyone is still reading), LCRW, and some shiny things. Stop by and say hi if you’re there!

Karen Joy Fowler @ Smith College

Mon 10 Sep 2018 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Posted by: Gavin

Last week Karen Joy Fowler was in town (so we have signed copies of What I Didn’t See) to read at Smith College as her novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was this year’s First Year Experience Smith Reads choice.

She was joined on stage by Ruth Ozeki and they chatted and Ruth asked questions the students had emailed her. After the reading there was a rush as attendees lined up to get their books signed. I was delighted to take this panoramic shot of the line as a reminder of the enthusiasm of readers for this author and her book — click to enbiggen:

Double Jeffrey World Fantasy Awards

Wed 8 Nov 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizetl;dr 2 Jeffs won awards, so did other people. We love books and good drinks.

We went to cloudy and muggy, phew, San Antonio*, Texas, last week for the World Fantasy Convention and on Sunday — while we were at the airport waiting for our flight and chatting over a very much enjoyed beer with Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies — the awards were handed out.

I am delighted to report that Jeffrey Ford won for his collection A Natural History of Hell and doubly delighted to say that Jeffrey Alan Love, whose art graces the cover of that book among others, received the award for Best Artist. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Jeffrey Alan Love made a huge impact at the con by pulling out his paper, pens, ink and pads and making (and giving away!) pieces of art at the bar and at the (massive! overwhelming!) group signing event on Saturday night. I took one home with me and am still amazed by his process. Can’t wait to pick up Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki which Jeffrey illustrated.

I spent most of my time in the dealers room chatting with people, checking out all the books, the lovely books, that everyone had brought, buying books, and sometimes selling books. We sold most of the books we brought, a lovely thing! I wonder sometimes if book rooms like this will still exist in five or ten years. They’re just like indie bookstores: if people want them to exist, they shop there. If they don’t care, they don’t buy books there, and the book room (or bookstore) disappears. I’m for them going on and on. I do love poking around and finding books I knew and did not know I wanted.

Meghan McCarron had recommended to all that the Esquire bar should be checked out and wow, that was a great hot tip. I loved the cocktails upstairs but the downstairs Cocteles de Maíz were the cocktails of my heart: that the menu was designed and printed (on paper made of corn!) by a local press, Snake Hawk Press [really, click that link], helped but wow. Also yum. What creations.

Of the Guests of Honor, I met David Mitchell and he was lovely, yay! Here’s Kelly’s picture of him chatting with Ted Chiang. I caught up briefly with Tananarive Due (one of my Clarion instructors!); I saw Gregory Manchess signing lots of books and enjoyed his art in the art show; I picked up a book by toastmaster Martha Wells; and I was sorry to miss Gordon Van Gelder being roasted, see my note above about the Esquire bar and not having a reservation there that night, darn it. Next time.

The final Guest of Honor Karen Joy Fowler did a couple of readings (thanks, schedulers!) so I got to the second one. She read chapters two and three of her next novel and all I can say is I hope it comes out sooner rather than later. She is a hell of a writer. Karen signed copies of her collection What I Didn’t See for us but then we sold them all, sorry. In fact, Kij Johnson and Kathleen Johnson signed copies of The River Bank and we sold out. Howard Waldrop then signed copies of Howard Who? and Horse of a Different Color and we sold out but we still have a few signed available from a previous visit, phew once more.

Then we came home, somewhat exhausted and ground into the floor by the act of talking to people for many days in a row — yup, that’s too much. Luckily now I get some quiet time to try and catch up on shipping and reading and erk, better go do that. (Smooth outro? Achieved!)

* — on the day we left, the day of the awards, the town was busy, people were going on about their lives, except for the 26 people murdered in a church 30 miles away. The gun laws and the amount of guns in this country are insane. Why are people allowed to have machine guns?

Humble Bundle: Super Nebula Author Showcase

Sat 13 May 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Hey, stop the presses (except for the ones printing and reprinting our books!), spread the word, the Humble Bundle is back! This time it’s the Super Nebula Author Showcase presented by SFWA. What do these books have in common? They all include at least one Nebula Award winning story:

  • For one single US dollar, you can get 8 DRM-free ebooks including Howard Waldrop’s Howard Who? (“The Ugly Chickens”) and Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen (“Louise’s Ghost”).
  • For $8 or more and add another dozen books (8+12=20 ebooks for $8+!) including John Kessel’s The Baum Plan for Financial Independence (“Pride and Prometheus”).
  • For $15 or more and add another ten books (20+10=30 ebooks for $15+!) including Nancy Kress’s Fountain of Age (“Fountain of Age”).
  • For $20 or more and add another ten books (30+10=40 ebooks for $20+!) including Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees (“The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” “Ponies,” & “Spar”), Carol Emshwiller’s Report to the Men’s Club (“Creature”), and Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See (“Always” & “What I Didn’t See”).

As with all Humble Bundles, readers choose where the money goes – between the publishers; SFWA (or a charity of your choice), and the Humble Bundle. I’m scheduling this to post on the weekend and by Friday afternoon over 5,000 people have already picked up the bundle. Thanks for reading and spreading the word if you can. Cheers!

AWP 2017, Before

Wed 8 Feb 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Posted by: Gavin

We’ve arrived in DC — where democracy is taking a beating, fingers crossed it will survive — and tomorrow the whole AWP shebang begins. Our books are still in transit due to the ice storm that hit the northeast. With luck I’ll be getting them today and by tomorrow there will be a lovely table (110-T, come on by and say hello) full of books all neatly set up and ready for dispersement into the world.

There are approximately four quadrillions readings and parties going on in the next few days. Here are a few Small Beer-related or -adjacent during the conference and then on Saturday at 6 pm we have a reading with Kelly Link & Juan Martinez at Politics and Prose.

Signing at the Small Beer Press table: 110-T (on the edge, near Tin House)
10:00am to 10:30am Juan Martinez
10:30am to 11:00am Sofia Samatar
11:00am to 11:30am Kelly Link 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Marquis Salon 7 & 8, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two

R205. The Political Woman: Historical Novelists Reimagine and Reclaim Women’s Place in Politics. (, , , , ) While rarely central and often discounted, women have always played a role in politics. In this panel, historical novelists discuss how and why they chose to unearth and reimagine the lost and untold stories of women in politics. What are the risks and rewards of using fiction to place women at the center of political narratives? What liberties are novelists compelled, or unwilling, to take with the historical record?

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Ballroom A, Washington Convention Center, Level Three

R282. Jennifer Egan, Karen Joy Fowler, and Hannah Tinti: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau. (, , , ) This event will bring together three engaging contemporary female writers to read and discuss their craft. Jennifer Egan is the author of five books, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel A Visit From the Goon Squad. Karen Joy Fowler is the author of nine books, including We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award. Hannah Tinti is the author of three books, including The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, which will be published in 2017.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 View Full Schedule

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Liberty Salon N, O, & P, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four

S181. Immigrants/Children of Immigrants: A Nontraditional Path to a Writing Career . (,  ,  ,  ,  ) Not only do you not have an uncle in publishing or see people from the neighborhood get MFAs, immigrants and children of immigrants are inculcated to opt for “safe,” “secure,” often well-paying jobs; a writing career may seem like an unimaginable luxury or a fantasy. This panel of working writers looks at both psychic and structural issues that add a special challenge for writers from immigrant families.

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Marquis Salon 9 & 10, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two

S271. The Short Story as Laboratory. (,  ,  ,  ,  ) What does short fiction allow? The form is beloved by science fiction writers, who use it to test out hypothetical futures; what does it offer writers who are doing other kinds of testing, related to emotional transitions, marginality, and migration? Is the short story an inherently border form? This panel considers these questions, the challenge of putting a set of experiments into a collection, and the tension between the laboratory and the completed book.

6 pm
Kelly Link and Juan Martinez
Politics & Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008 Get Directions
Kelly Link will read with Juan Martinez (Best Worst American) at the most excellent Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse. This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Click here for more information.

The Last Worders

Fri 30 Dec 2016 - Filed under: Free Stuff to Read, Short Stories, | Posted by: Gavin

(Originally published in LCRW 20.)

Charlotta was asleep in the dining car when the train arrived in San Margais. It was tempting to just leave her behind, and I tried to tell myself this wasn’t a mean thought, but came to me because I, myself, might want to be left like that, just for the adventure of it. I might want to wake up hours later and miles away, bewildered and alone. I am always on the lookout for those parts of my life that could be the first scene in a movie. Of course, you could start a movie anywhere, but you wouldn’t; that’s my point. And so this impulse had nothing to do with the way Charlotta had begun to get on my last nerve. That’s my other point. If I thought being ditched would be sort of exciting, then so did Charlotta. We felt the same about everything. Read more


Mon 23 May 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

All coversThe Story Collection Storybundle is live May 11 through June 2. There are 8 DRM-free short story collection ebooks including three exclusive to this bundle. Check them out:

What I Didn’t See: Stories by Karen Joy Fowler
The collection won the World Fantasy Award and the title story won the Nebula. Fowler is the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, a New York Times Bestseller made into a film, and won the 2013 PEN/Faulkner for We are all completely beside ourselves.

The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories by Walter Jon Williams
Two stories in this collection won the Nebula Award. Williams was a Philip K Dick Award Finalist and placed numerous times for the Nebula and Hugo Awards.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason
The collection received five stars from the San Francisco Review of Books. Mason’s books have been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award Finalist and New York Times Notable Books. Her OMNI story, “Tomorrow’s Child,” sold outright to Universal Studios.

Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner
The collection is an ebook exclusive for Storybundle! It includes forty-one stories, and has an Introduction by Karen Joy Fowler. Shiner’s work has been a finalist for the Philip K Dick Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award.

Wild Things by C. C. Finlay
The collection is a second ebook exclusive for Storybundle and has a new Afterword. A multi-award-nominated author, Finlay is the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Errantry: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand
Hand has won the World Fantasy Award four times, the Nebula twice, the Shirley Jackson twice, and the Mythopoetic Award. Her books have been both New York Times and Washington Post Notable Books.

Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy
Two stories in the collection were nominated for the Nebula. Murphy won the Nebula twice, the World Fantasy, and the Philip K Dick Award.

6 Stories by Kathe Koja
A third Storybundle exclusive collection! Koja, author of Skin and Under the Poppy, won the Bram Stoker Award and was a Philip K Dick Award Finalist.

Pay what you want for three books; pay more than $12 ($23? $42? $1,099?) and get all 8 — plus donate a percentage to the Science Fiction Writers of America.

The Story Collection Storybundle will run only from May 11 through June 2, 2016. When it’s gone, it’s gone!

All Covers Large


Fri 17 May 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Darn it, haven’t kept up with the Consortium Bookslinger app! Every week they post a new story from one of the Consortium publishers and since we publish a fair number of short story collections, a fair number of those stories are from our books. We’ve got new stories scheduled to go out just about monthly.

Checkkkk it out:

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here:


Another book!

Mon 22 Apr 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Posted by: Gavin

9781931520485-96And, arriving now at all good indie bookstores near you . . . what is that I see? The paperback edition of Karen Joy Fowler’s fabulous third collection of stories, What I Didn’t See and Other Stories.

The cover art is by one of our fave artists, Kathleen Jennings, and it looks crazy great on paper. Here online, it’s, yes, blacker than black, Spinal Tap “none more black”-level black. It’s all in the lamination, embossing, and something else along those lines, peeps. I’ll post some more photos that show the cover off properly soon.

And, next month Karen’s new novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes out. Remember: read the book, not the jacket or reviews. Not because the book depends on a twist, but it is a different read if you don’t know something that you’re told on the jacket.

Check out Karen’s “beast, bug, and bird blog” and go hear her read—she is one of the smartest, funniest readers (and writers!) out there.

ETA: Ta da: a photo of the new book showing the shiny shininess of it all.

What I Didn't See pb

Small Beer &c, 2011

Wed 4 Jan 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Bookscan says our bestsellers were:

1) Kathe Koja, Under the Poppy
2) Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others
3) Kelly Link, Stranger Things Happen
4) Maureen F. McHugh, After the Apocalypse
5) Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn’t See and Other Stories

I know other things happened this year. We published one issue of LCRW with a lovely cover by Kathleen Jennings:

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 27

A. D. Jameson · Jessy Randall · K. M. Ferebee · Karen Heuler · M. K. Hobson · Carol Emshwiller · David Rowinski · Joan Aiken · Sarah Harris Wallman · Gwenda Bond · David Blair · Sarah Heller · Nicole Kimberling

And here are the books we published.

First Small Beer Press titles:

After the Apocalypse
Maureen F. McHugh

“Incisive, contemporary, and always surprising.”—Publishers WeeklyBest Books 2011: The Top 10

A Slepyng Hound to Wake
Vincent McCaffrey

“Henry is a character cut from Raymond Chandler: a modern knight on a mission to save those, and what, he loves.”—Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen

Paradise Tales
Geoff Ryman

* “Often contemplative and subtly ironic, the 16 stories in this outstanding collection work imaginative riffs on a variety of fantasy and SF themes”—Publishers Weekly (*Starred Review*)

The Child Garden
Geoff Ryman

Winner of the John W. Cambell and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

The Monkey’s Wedding and Other Stories
Joan Aiken

* “Wildly inventive, darkly lyrical, and always surprising . . . a literary treasure.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Solitaire: a novel
Kelley Eskridge
A New York Times Notable Book, Borders Original Voices selection, and Nebula, Endeavour, and Spectrum Award finalist.

And one Big Mouth House title:

The Freedom Maze
Delia Sherman

“Adroit, sympathetic, both clever and smart, The Freedom Maze will entrap young readers and deliver them, at the story’s end, that little bit older and wiser.”
—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Out of Oz

Hell of a week

Mon 11 Jul 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Posted by: Gavin

Paradise Tales coverFirst: a new interview with Karen Joy Fowler! That is one smart person. (Two, since Charles Tan did the interview.)

This week we have a new book out. What? You didn’t know? It’s true that Geoff Ryman’s Paradise Tales was delayed a couple of times, but, Bam! Here it is. What a book. More on that later. Later this week, that is. Later this month, two series books (from me, who loves standalone titles!), Hound 2, as we call A Slepyng Hound to Wake and the first book in Lydia Millet’s new series for kids, The Fires Beneath the Sea.

Geoff’s one of the Guests of Honor at Readercon so we’re going to give him a beer and get him to sign a ton of books. If you would like them personalized, we;ll see what we can do.

Readercon begins for us on Friday when we take some books &c* in to the dealer’s room where we get to catch up with some friends—and buy some books from them. Should be a busy time as, yes, we are bringing our daughter Ursula, so we’ll see how well this works.

Here’s my tiny Readercon Schedule:

LCRW Stainless Water Bottle 0.6L2:00 PM NH    Three Messages and a Warning group reading. Chris N. Brown, Michael J. DeLuca, Gavin J. Grant. Gavin Grant (publisher), Chris N. Brown (editor) and Michael J. DeLuca (translator) read from the anthology Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic, forthcoming from Small Beer Press.

3:00 PM Vin.    Kaffeeklatsch. Gavin J. Grant, Kelly Link.

And I will post Kelly’s when I’m more sure of it.

* What can the &c be? We’ve heard tell of t-shirts. Maybe. Water bottles? No. Drinkables? Surely not?

3 Karens

Tue 17 May 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Posted by: Gavin

What a morning we’re having. But along with the other stuff, here’s the great news:

  1. Karen Lord’s debut novel Redemption in Indigo is a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award. That’s a really strong list of books—both the adult and children’s—lit lists making it a real honor to be nominated.
  2. Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See and Other Stories gets a lovely review on Strange Horizons and both the book and the original story, “Booth’s Ghost” are finalists for the Locus Award. That book is piling up the awards!
  3. The third Karen moment today is that fabby Karen Russell who recommends Kelly’s Stranger Things Happen on NPR. Wow! There’s a link to

ETA: Want to go see Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield . . . sign a book? That’s what he’ll be doing at [some future day at] one of our beloved indie bookshops, the Brookline Booksmith. [Event postponed because the guy has to go pitch!] The guy is a great player (or so I’m told, still not really up on the whole baseball thing, give me time) but he’s also a great guy: at Franciscan Hospital for Children there’s a lovely all-weather playing field behind the main building called the Wakefield because guess who funded it? That makes him awesome.

And: we got emailed asking whether we’d publish a book by an author we love. Wow. Fingers crossed.

What I See (15), by Karen Joy Fowler

Sun 1 May 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 15 by Karen Joy Fowler

May 1, 2011

Happy International Workers Day! We pause here for a moment to remember that May Day is also the international distress signal. There’s probably a story there.

Yesterday MJ and I saw a bobcat up at Natural Bridges, hanging about the visitor’s center. Two years ago, while biking, I saw a cat in this same area, but he was much smaller. Possibly this then is the same cat, but all grown up. He was comparable in size to Mojito, looked at us briefly, and then took the ruined butterfly-viewing walkway to destinations unknown. MJ never noticed as MJ rarely takes in the big picture. Too busy nosing about for crusts of bread or discarded French fries to scan the horizon for predators. I’m curious as to how she would have reacted, but it is probably for the best. MJ doesn’t know and doesn’t need to know that the world contains cats of this size. I think it might shake her to the core.

A few weeks ago a friend described Mojito to me as a really smart dog. In fact, among those of us who know her best, MJ’s intelligence is a subject much discussed. She rarely does anything she’s asked to do, but it’s never clear whether she doesn’t understand what you want or whether your desires just carry very little weight with her. This latter possibility is the one I hold. It’s annoying to me, because I never ask her to do something without a good reason.

I’m reminded of an incident many years back concerning my daughter and this same issue. I’d promised the children that we’d stop at Dairy Queen for a special treat. I parked and my daughter got out while I was working the belts on her little brother’s car seat. As I was doing this, a truck pulled up next to us and man emerged. He was carrying a rifle. I told my daughter to get back in the car. I did this firmly, but quietly—I didn’t want to draw the attention of the man with the gun.

Instant outrage. You SAID we’d get ice cream, my daughter told me and followed the man inside. I believe he held the door open for her.

And although nothing untoward happened, the man with the rifle merely bought himself whatever they were calling blizzards back then and went back out to his truck, it’s still a memory I call on when I wish to feel misused and ignored. I don’t order people about just to hear myself talk. Mojito is not a dog asked to do tricks or even to come unless she’s genuinely needed.  It would be nice if she factored this in.

It would be nice if people stopped carrying guns about.

We are in a period of extremely bright sunshine and extremely strong winds. Much hilarity this morning, trying to keep my hat on my head.

Previous posts


Karen’s latest story is “Younger Women” available on Subterranean Online. She is also moderating the Tiptree Book Club .

What I See (14), by Karen Joy Fowler

Tue 26 Apr 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 14 by Karen Joy Fowler

Some things happen fast here—the sun comes up and advances during my walk. The tide comes in or goes out. Spring arrives. This seemed to happen overnight. I got up one morning and the yard was filled with wrens, there were butterflies in the park, and the mustard is much taller than Mojito by now. It’s all in purple, white, and yellow bloom. On a warm day, I feel that I could sleep in it like Dorothy in the poppyfields. A man at the park recommended taking the greens home and cooking with them, but I’d have to know which ones no dog had pissed on first. MJ could tell me, but she can’t be bothered to.

Winter is still evident in the landscape. The park trees must be shallow-rooted because so many large ones were upended in the rains. There are vantage points in the park from which the trees all appear now to slant. Up at Natural Bridges, a fallen tree wrecked the butterfly-viewing suspension walkway. No dogs are allowed on it, so MJ and I have never been, but we can see the wreckage from the road.

Down in Lighthouse Field, some new paths have opened and some old ones closed. One trail I used to take is a pond now and other ponds also remain, attracting egrets and mallards, though most of the mud has dried out and tracks are passable again.

Yesterday was clean-up day. The Wallendas did a highwire act at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk that attracted crowds and helicopters; there were fireworks and it was all very tempting, but MJ and I went birding instead. Here is what we saw: pigeons, scoters, gulls, cormorants, blackbirds (red-winged and Brewers), a mallard duck pair, a few brown pelicans, a covey of California quail, two snowy egrets, one blue heron, one hummingbird, and many small brown sorts I can’t identify.

Today we happened on the rangers talking amiably to a man who’d slept in the park last night in a hammock. He was apparently on a long bike ride and I was taken with his high and not so-high-tech gear. I suddenly wished to take a long bike ride myself, a trip of many weeks, with hammocks and portable stoves. But then I thought that eventually I’d have to bike uphill, which I don’t care for much. And where would MJ sleep? Many bugs to be worked out of this mad nomadic plan. Including actual bugs, I’m guessing.

Previous posts


Karen’s latest story is “Younger Women” available on Subterranean Online. She is also moderating the Tiptree Book Club .

What list has (2)

Wed 20 Apr 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Karen Joy Fowler, Peter Straub, Richard Butner, Laird Barron (many times!), Caitlin R. Kiernan, all in one place?

The Shirley Jackson Awards have announced their

2010 Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees(!)

Congratulations to Karen (for being nominated in the short story and collection categories!) and all the other authors. The awards will be given out at Readercon in July—see you there?

What I See (13), by Karen Joy Fowler

Wed 30 Mar 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 13 by Karen Joy Fowler

The song in my head today is all about Japan. “Ue o muite, arukou, namida ga kobore naiyo-o-uni.” It’s the only Japanese I know.

This from my buddy, Tim Sandlin in an email:

I don’t know the proper response to all the end of the world stuff. Sometimes I’m petrified into emotional catatonia. I’ve always tried to picture what the average citizen felt in 1938 Germany, how they could have let what was happening happen? Now I sort of see it. You get up and have coffee and get dressed and try to figure out what else you can be doing, other than loving and protecting your family. Then it all gets out of hand.

Here’s what I’m doing while it all gets out of hand: walking the dog. We’ve had a whole week of heavy wind and rain here. Huge trees upended. Small birds flung against the windows. The waves have been enormous and the beaches, while not closed, have been posted with warnings to stay out of the water. The dog beach is covered in crashing, roiling foam. I don’t know if this could still be caused by the tsunami, or just the winter storms, or possibly the super moon that we never saw, stuffed as the whole city was into a sock of clouds.

Yesterday was flying nun weather and MJ and I fought for every step. There was a kayak competition at Steamer Lane and it was sadder than it was inspiring to see the kayaks working so hard against the wind and water for so little headway.

Today we started in the rain, but walked into clear weather and a blue sky above. Natural Bridges State Park was closed due to weather, but we ducked the gate and went in only to find the road blocked by trees the storm had felled. By the time we turned around, the gate had been seriously augmented with tape; getting out was much harder than getting in.

On the way back I could see the dark sky ahead and we hit the rain again. There was something magical about the act of walking out of one weather system and into another. Like I was slipping through a door into a different dimension. It reminded me of an afternoon when I was small girl in Indiana. I was playing with some kids across the street from my house, and we saw a rainstorm coming toward us down the Ballantine hill. I made for home and, like some superhero, outran the rain, which hit just as I ducked under the porch overhang. I don’t have a lot of superhero moments in my life so I tend to remember them.

MJ ate some grass that she immediately threw up. It’s a thing she does. But today was the day she, usually so reserved and diffident, decided to extend the paw of friendship. She bounded up to everyone we passed, demented strands of vomitous grass poking out from her mouth, streaks of green dribbled down her chin. She got a mixed response. I blame the moon.

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Karen is also moderating the Tiptree Book Club .

What I See (12), by Karen Joy Fowler

Wed 16 Mar 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 12 by Karen Joy Fowler

I’ve been reading about the staggering numbers of people missing in Minami Sanriku. Apparently the tsunami was channeled and focused by the walls of bay on which it sat. This helped me understand why, halfway across the world, Santa Cruz was also considered to be at risk.

I wasn’t here on the 12th. I was in Idaho at the Rocky Mountain Writers’ Festival and away from the news so I learned quite late about the Japanese earthquake. When I saw the magnitude listed on the television chyron, I thought it must have been a misprint. Today even that unbelievable number has been raised. But my husband says that locally it was a non-event. There were big waves, he says, but we’ve seen bigger. The beaches were closed, but surfers turned out in large numbers and people lined the cliffs with binoculars and cameras. A young man died in Crescent City trying to see the waves, but I’d have done the same thing if I’d been here. I would have wanted to see.

The media are breaking the news of nuclear meltdown in tiny increments—a slow drip of disaster. Like the aftermath of the gulf oil well, I suspect we will never completely comprehend the damage done here. It will be with us into another generation and beyond.

Meanwhile the waters in the bay here are calm. The mustard in the park has grown taller than my knees, which means Mojito can disappear into it. There is a crow building a nest in a leafless tree. Ponds have appeared where there were no ponds and many of the paths are muddy and impassible.

When we first moved here, the rock out past the lighthouse was covered in sea lions. Then they left it to the cormorants and pelicans, went to live noisily under the pier at the wharf. Last week I saw a single sea lion back on the rock, the first in nearly a year. I’m waiting to see if she’s a harbinger or an outlier. Sea lions are caniformia, or dog-shaped animals, but MJ admits to no fellow feeling.

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Karen is also moderating the Tiptree Book Club discussion of Maureen F. McHugh’s story “Useless Things.”

Sandstorm day and more

Wed 2 Mar 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Posted by: Gavin

Sandstorm: A Forgotten Realms Novel (Forgotten Realms) Cover

Just sneaking this in before the end of . . .

Sandstorm Day!

Woot! And I am not even a player of said game but I sure am going to read that book.

Also: Carrie Frye is the new editor of The Awl! (Ok, so this is last week’s news, but the internets, they don’t always work around here.) Magnificent!

Holy crap: we’ve had bagels for breakfast with an Oscar winner! Congratulations to Shaun Tan et al! ((Locus says: “The film can be viewed in its entirety at”)

Go join Karen Joy Fowler and the Tiptree Bookclub talking about Maureen F. McHugh’s excellent story “Useless Things” from Eclipse 3 (edited by Jonathan Strahan).

A new book award voted on by indie booksellers: could be fun. Also: any suggestions for a name for the award are welcome. Could be more fun!

Two nontraditional places to find our books (and we have a cool announcement about that very thing coming here soon, too): a fundraiser and an awareness raiser!

Con or Bust is expanding and they are having a huge fundraiser. We’re offering Small Beer Sixpacks (if you go up to $200, they come with your own engraved, wooden sixpack holder!), LCRW subscriptions (—Avec chocolat? —Mais oui!) and advanced reading copies of some sekrit yet-to-be-published books! Bid here please!

The Ranting Dragon is running a huge giveaway to encourage/challenge more readers (especially younger readers) to vote in the Locus poll. Seemed like a good idea to us (and to many other publishers!) so there are tons of books being given away including all of our included titles—including 5 copies of LCRW 26. Freebies! Tons of them!

What I Hear, by Karen Joy Fowler

Tue 1 Mar 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I Hear, by Karen Joy Fowler

I made a decision at the start of this blog to leave the iPod behind when I walked, but it doesn’t mean there’s no music. I spend most of my life with a song in my head. Not a song, really, so much as a bit of a song, a few lines that repeat. With great effort I can finish the song or substitute another in, but the original snatch returns as soon as the effort ceases. This is not usually unpleasant. It depends on the song. Sometimes I enjoy trying to track back how that particular song ended up in my head at that particular time. Sometimes I can’t. In any case, I’m used to it.

This morning’s was Acadian Driftwood.

Try’n’ to raise a family. End up the enemy
Over what went down on the Plains of Abraham

What did go down on the Plains of Abraham? You might be surprised to hear that Canadian history wasn’t covered much in school here. Read more

What I See, part 11, by Karen Joy Fowler

Mon 28 Feb 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 11, by Karen Joy Fowler

The weather here has been erratic. MJ and I have taken our walks in rain and in wind so strong I was knocked off my feet. Snow was predicted here at sea level one morning, but never materialized. Other days have been like spring. I meant to report on all of them. But I’ve been distracted by travel, work, and family. And mesmerized by the events in the Middle-East and the midwest. I’ve been so discouraged by the drumbeat of men with money (fresh off the windfall of the Bush tax-cut extensions) soberly insisting on the need for a shared sacrifice in which they’ll have no share. Put the people who are actually sacrificing on my television please instead of these buffoons. Let me look at the incredibly bravery of the people in Libya and be awed. Let me look at the crowds in my beloved Madison, Wisconsin, and be hopeful.

Read more

What I See, part 10, by Karen Joy Fowler

Mon 14 Feb 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 10, by Karen Joy Fowler

Recently our walks have been curtailed by Mojito’s surgery. Not abandoned, but shorter and slower. She’s sporting some Frankenstein’s monster stitchery and is only just recovering the bounce in her step. The vet described her as a relatively young dog, which surprised me as she’s ten, but according to the chart in his office, ten for a dog is comparable to fifty-six for a person, which does make her the youngest creature in the house, a mere sprig, and explains her youthful attitudes and behaviors.

Odd sightings today.

A singing tree: Just west of the dog beach, along the clifftop is a Monterey pine. There are many Monterey pines along the cliff and one tries not to have favorites, but this is a very appealing tree. Today it was making a tremendous racket as I approached and I had to get quite close to understand that a congress of blackbirds was hidden among the needles, each of them shouting as loudly as possible. There were so many that if they’d all flapped their wings at once, the tree would have taken flight.

A leaping cat: MJ and I were coming home along the north edge of the park when I saw a flash of white. It appeared briefly above the blackberry vines and then disappeared again. This repeated until I was close enough to see that it was a cat, bouncing straight up and down in the bramble as if it were on a pogo stick. Of course, MJ’s appearance put an end to all such joyous behaviors and I never did figure out what the what was there.

A drunken surfer: Or maybe not. He was headed back from the beach, still wet, still in his wet-suit, surfboard under one arm and carrying an enormous, almost empty bottle of Jack Daniels in the other hand. Though it’s entirely possible that he hadn’t been drinking—drinking while surfing certainly seems inadvisable in the extreme. It’s entirely possible that he was merely picking up someone else’s litter.

There was a monthly community clean-up underway. When I first walked through the park this morning, it looked fine, but later I had no trouble filling a pail with trash. I found many cigarette butts, wrappers from straws, beer bottles, and napkins. Empty bean cans and bits of tin foil. Condoms, which I’d rather not find, but at least suggest responsible sex. There are many things I’ve done in my life that it shames me to remember, but littering is not among them. Put it on my tombstone. She Didn’t Litter.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3

What I See, part 4

What I See, part 5
What I See, part 6
What I See, part 7
What I See, part 8
What I See, part 9

What I See, part 9, by Karen Joy Fowler

Thu 27 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 9, by Karen Joy Fowler

According to today’s paper, sea otter deaths are increasing. The probable cause is various diseases carried in the water run-off. Kitty litter is particularly suspect. So that feeling I had that all was well in the bay has been short-lived.

This week Mojito is scheduled for some major surgery. She has to have a large, (benign!) fatty growth removed from her chest. What this surgery will cost us would, in the 1800s, have bought a comfortable house in San Diego or four sea otter pelts. I just wish we were spending it on something she’d enjoy.

So I’m thankful that today’s walk was so perfect. The big surprise was to find the dog beach completely free of seaweed. The beach has been adopted by both a hydroponics firm and a spezialtiefbau construction company, but I can’t imagine they would, or could, have managed such a clean-up. It must have been the tide and I noticed that while usually the curl of the waves are black with seaweed, today they were an empty, glassy green. We have apparently arrived at the dog beach’s no-seaweed season.  I never noticed before that there was one.

We had that clean sand all to ourselves, which is the way MJ likes it. And she found a tennis ball. I don’t take tennis balls to the beach because they result in certain obsessive behaviors that spoil the rest of the walk. But finding a ball on the beach works for everyone. MJ chased it in the waves. She dug holes and buried it. She played a game of solitary catch, tossing it up and catching it again. She was one happy dog.

Afterward, she carried it carefully up the stairs and for another block or so before it got to be too much of a responsibility and she abandoned it in the ice plant.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3

What I See, part 4

What I See, part 5
What I See, part 6
What I See, part 7
What I See, part 8

What I See, part 8, by Karen Joy Fowler

Tue 25 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

What I See, part 8, by Karen Joy Fowler

I was up and on my walk early this morning, which is the way I like it, though I don’t set the alarm because what’s the point of being a writer if you get up with an alarm? The sun was rising; the sky was pink and the water was silver. And there was a wild tangle of contrails in the sky as if some jet had been buzzing about like a bee. I walked with my back to the sun and my face toward the full moon, which was still falling into the mountains. Incredibly beautiful, even the contrails.

I’ve been seeing the bay as an imperiled system, as it clearly is. But it’s also a system recovered and today I’m happily focused on that. Last night I went to the Capitola Book Café and heard Stephen R. Palumbi talk about his co-authored book, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay. As a result, I now know that the bay was nearly destroyed by pollution and over-fishing, but is currently in its best shape in some 200 years. I can’t tell you how much knowing this improves my walk.

I haven’t been mentioning the sea otters much, though I do usually see some. It turns out my silence concerning them is a local tradition. In the 1800’s the otters were hunted, people thought, to extinction. For many years, the few that survived were protected by residents around Monterey Bay by an informal agreement of secrecy.

Around 1937, the otter population began to rebound. As a direct result, the kelp forests returned. The canneries were idle. The bay began to recover from the period when they weren’t. I learned last night that this happened largely through activism. I learned that I have a great many people to thank for the beautiful bay I walk along and, it’s not important, but pleases me, that so many of them were writers. I’d already known some of their names: Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck, Joseph Campbell. But I hadn’t heard of Julia Platt, arguably among the earliest and most effective of the activists, and she died without seeing the impact she’d eventually have, which saddens me.

I’ve been losing faith in activism—the money and power and greed of the opposition has just seemed so overwhelming—and our elected officials so unreliable. But today as I sit listening to the sea lions and the sea gulls, I’m thinking that really, we only have to be as good, we only have to try as hard and for as long, as the people who came before us. And not mind dying before anything is fixed.

A desalination plant has been proposed and is being tested in Santa Cruz. Meetings have been held regarding its potential impact on marine life. I guess I’m ready to go to some meetings.

PS – my daughter tells me that the bits of brain I saw on the beach earlier this week were probably parts of a sponge from the Monterey Bay canyon.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3
What I See, part 4
What I See, part 5
What I See, part 6
What I See, part 7

Earlier Entries in Karen Joy Fowler »