Tag Archives: rip

Goodbye to a woman who revolutionized science fiction: RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

There are two books that that were integral to my decision to become a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and both are by Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. When I read those as a young adult, I was blown away at the way her thought experiments in those novels could leave me stunned and amazed — and considering the world in a very different way than I had before. One of the lines I absolutely loved (and I’m quoting from memory here, so it might not be accurate): “The king was pregnant.”

The Left Hand of Darkness

I used to say jokingly that I wanted to be Ursula K. Le Guin when I grew up. It was one of the greatest honors I have ever experienced when a review compared my fiction to that of Le Guin.

I read her revolutionary works in the seventies, and they may not be as eye-opening now as they were then. On the other hand, when you look at the present political situation in the U.S., revolutionary thinking seems to have gone by the wayside.

RIP Ursula K. Le Guin. May your brilliant thought experiments soon be revived and social progress not be in vain.

Runnin’ Down a Dream: RIP Tom Petty

Just before going to bed last night, I heard that Tom Petty was in the hospital. Then this morning came the sad news that he was dead.

Tom Petty is one of those artists where I have almost every album. When I started listening mostly on my computer or ipod, I ripped all of my favorite songs and added them to my mp3 collection. Sometime after attending the Clarion West Writers Workshop, I deliberately chose “Runnin’ Down a Dream” as my theme song — because hey, if you want to be a writer, or any kind of artist, it certainly isn’t going to come to you. 🙂

I saw a snippet of an interview earlier today where he said that many people had told him his songs provided a soundtrack for their lives — and it couldn’t get much better than that. How right he was. He certainly provided a number of songs to the soundtrack of my life.

And so he lives on.

Goodbye, Arden Dale, July 29, 1959 – July 13, 2014

This is turning out to be a less than stellar year for news of friends. I realized today that I’d missed the birthday of my best friend from high school, so I went to her Facebook page to leave her a late birthday greeting — only to see picture upon picture with memories and goodbyes.

Arden in The Cloisters, 1989/90

We hadn’t been part of each others’ lives for a long time, and I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years. But she was incredibly important to me during difficult and formative years, and I would not be the person I am now without her. I wish so much that we could have seen each other again. Last year, we missed both being in Oregon at the same time by a couple of weeks.

Birthday party
A surprise birthday party Arden organized for me in high school

Here’s a poem I wrote for her almost 30 years ago now:

I sit in the sun
watching the lizard
in stripes of gray and brown
with a truncated tail
scuttle along
the sun-baked stone wall
at my back.
The lizard lost it,
but what did she need it for?
It will grow back
She is resilient.

These are the contents
of content:
I have myself,
the lizard,
the sun,
the wall,
the pen in my hand
to reach a friend
halfway around the world.

She has not seen the lizard,
though she knows the wall.

Arden Dale and Ruth Nestvold
Arden taking me to the airport for Germany, 1978

Goodbye, Ardie.

Slowly getting back to writing: My quarterly accounting post

Those who follow this blog will know that I took some time off from writing the last couple of weeks to give my mourning brain a break. When the mourning seemed to be going on a bit to long, I remembered the letter from Clarion West in my inbox and signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year. That started on Monday, and I haven’t quite reached my goal of 500 words a day, but almost: 400 a day on Monday and Tuesday, and 500 on Wednesday. At least it’s helping with my main goal — getting back into writing regularly again.

Now for the accounting, my goals at the beginning of the quarter and what became of them.


– Work on writing related projects every day. Once the Big Translation Project is done, return to daily page goals.
I mostly did this, except for the first couple of weeks in June after Jay died. Life happens, and so does death, and sometimes we just can’t push forward with our goals as a result. Some things are more important than writing a few more pages.

– Move forward on A Wasted Land
I have done so, if slowly.

– Finish edits on Recontact (collab eith Jay Lake)
Finished a first round of edits and put the novella through the Villa Diodati workshop in Spain the beginning of May. I have yet to integrate the critiques I got there.

Finish edits on Island of Glass

– Start Facets of Glass
Started, yes, but barely. 🙂

– Write 2 new short stories
Wrote one and started a second.


Be done with the Big Translation Project by the end of April

Writing business:

Publish Island of Glass
DONE! Well, at least for the paperback. 🙂 I still have to arrange some promotion and set a date for the publication of the ebook.

– Publish Recontact (novella with Jay Lake)
I did not finish this in time, unfortunately. 😦 But since I didn’t, I think I may send it around to some magazines first. That might bring in more money for Jay’s daughter and widow than an ebook would.

– Publish “The Shadow Artist” as ebook

– Upload “Leaving Sweater” to Smashwords and make it free
Didn’t upload to Smashwords, but free books through Draft2Digital are now also going free on B&N, which is slowly making Smashwords obsolete, as far as I’m concerned, seeing as their Meatgrinder (their term, not mine) is so difficult to format for. I have better things to do than uploading a book half-a-dozen times. With Draft2Digital, if it doesn’t work the first time, it usually works on the second, and it’s a lot faster to boot. Anyway, “The Leaving Sweater” is now free on both B&N and iTunes. I just have to get Amazon to price match.

– Publish “Mars, A Traveler’s Guide” to Amazon and make it free

Make Author Page for Amazon.de
DONE! You can check it out here.

– Submit a short story a week to traditional publishers
Not quite. Only 7 story submissions this quarter.

– Start marketing my ebooks again
I’m afraid not. Which of course is reflected in my abysmal sales. But I am well aware that I have only myself to blame, and nothing will change until I put my marketing hat back on again.

I don’t have a lot of strike-outs above, but I’m ok with that. Like I said, death happens, and if I started kicking myself for crying too much because a friend died, what kind of person would I be?

And looking at my list, I managed to get more done than I thought, so I’m good. I hope everyone else is happy with their progress.

Jay Lake, June 6, 1964 - June 1, 2014

Goodbye, buddy: Jay Lake, June 6, 1964 – June 1, 2014

For some reason, I never quite believed that this moment would come, that I would be writing this farewell. Jay was such a big guy, with a big heart and a big laugh and energy to burn. I couldn’t believe that cancer would win out over all that, kept hoping against hope that Jay’s huge spirit would triumph. No such luck. Jay was crazy, extravagant, generous, a force of nature. When he entered a room, he took it over; it was his, he commanded it, and whether you liked him or not, you sure as h*ll noticed him. He was as garish and loud as the signature Hawaiian shirts he wore.

Jae Brim, Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold

But he was a lot more than that. He was a writer who was in love with words. None of that nonsense about the words disappearing, unobtrusive, behind plot and character, just being a vehicle for the story! Words should be flashy and beautiful, they should show off and strut their stuff and make sure readers noticed that they were the true stars of the show. That’s why, around the time I met Jay in 2001, he created the The Whirling Dingleberry Award — a motorized trophy for “wretched excess in stylistic elegance” for the Wordos writing workshop in my home town of Eugene, Oregon. Perhaps that’s also one of the reasons we eventually started collaborating. I’m not as baroque a writer as Jay was, but I do love to just play with words for words sake on occasion. We certainly had that in common.

If memory serves, I first met Jay when I crashed a Wordos workshop in around 2001 to surprise my Clarion West classmate Eric Witchey. For sure, Jay, Eric and I kept showing up in the same crowd at World Horror Con 2001 in Seattle, and I recall a very bizarre round robin story-telling session. But where I really started to get to know him better was at a Strange Horizons workshop on the Oregon coast in 2002. (This was before he grew his hair long and started wearing his now-famous Hawaiian shirts.)

Strange Horizons Workshop 2002

Back then, I was going to cons in the US once or twice a year, and Jay and I tended to hang out when we were both in the same place at the same time.

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold, Jim Minz

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold

I find it hard to believe that I will never see Jay again, that we will never get back to collaborating again, that he will never again waltz into a room and make it crazier, happier and brighter.

I miss you, buddy.

Here’s the way I want to remember Jay — laughing:

Jay Lake, Ruth Nestvold

I may not believe in that kind of stuff (and neither did Jay), but part of me really hopes his spirit is out there somewhere, noticing how many lives he touched. But if not, his spirit is still out there in the lovely stories and novels he left for the world.

Some more goodbyes from others here:

Charlie Jane Anders

Elizabeth Bear

Cory Doctorow

John Scalzi



Greg van Eekhout

Related posts:

Saying goodbye with a laugh: The Jay Lake Wake

An excerpt from Recontact with Jay Lake and the first attempt at a cover

Almost All the Way Home From the Stars