Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Virtual Swallows of Hog Island -- new story coming at

Tor publishes short stories on Amazon. They have a brilliantly odd and otherworldly sensibility that I've admired for a long time. I'm honored that they're publishing three stories of mine in 2017. The first is up for pre-order -- a .99-cent read. Here's a bit about it:

In "The Virtual Swallows of Hog Island," a programmer finds himself working for the self-proclaimed "Bad-Boy of Virtual-Reality Therapy.” While his boss is breaking new ground and breaking the rules and his coworkers are engaging in questionable uses of the latest technology, the lonely programmer is in a state of mourning over his deep personal losses and must figure out his own form of therapy.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Elves and Shelves.

Dave goes rogue and buys Elf on a Shelf. I say nothing. The next day, our 9 year old is upset because the Elf didn't move or give her a gift or become engaged in an elaborate marshmallow fight instead it stayed in its box. Dave and I are alone. "So this Elf..." he says.

I say, "Look there's a reason why we never had an Elf on a Shelf."

"What is it?"

"Have you seen our Easter Bunny game? Have you not noticed that the kids think that Tooth Fairies have a genetically poor sense of the passage of time? How our advent calendars just kinda go dry from distraction four days in? Sure, we say that cash prizes hidden by a series of difficult clues on Christmas are an odd familiar eccentricity, but do you remember how the tradition started? This Elf plays to all of our weaknesses, none of our strengths."

We both stare at the Elf, icily. He stares back.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Once the first draft of the novel is done... some tips.

I wrote a post-NaNoWriMo essay for Bustle on what to do once the first draft of the novel is done. (If you balk at #4 - Suffer fools gladly, I know a lot about you. More than you want me to.) 

Thursday, December 1, 2016


While reading John Irving's In One Person, I remember stopping cold on this line, "By ’95 – in New York, alone – more Americans had died of AIDS than were killed in the Vietnam War." I remembered walking through the city in the summer of '89, seeing this young man stop to look at himself in the long window of a postal truck, his skin wounded by the disease. My sister was in theater, my best friend in fashion -- the loss of life, the generation who were taken. 
Today, on World AIDS Day, I remember my cousin, Jack. At our wedding, he likely already knew that he was dying. It was the last time I would see him. He was a father, a sweetheart, a good soul. I think of him each time I hear of a new scientific advance, each time there's hope, as if I can bring him back somehow. 
I think of Tom Hanks choking up in his Inside the Actor's Studio while talking about the filming of Philadelphia. Lipton reminds him that 53 gay men with AIDS were in the film. A year later, 43 had died. Hanks tells the story of one of these men who worked in a noodle factory. He says that it's a hard film to watch because he sees the men they lost. "They last forever, you know, these films." 
These past few weeks writing has seemed pretty pointless. Art has felt so flimsy. It's not pointless and we need all of it, from any willing to risk making it. All hands on deck. Sometimes it changes people. Sometimes it endures. We don't, none of us.
Here is the audio clip of Hanks' talk, mentioned above. For that story, listen in at 23:30.