The summer has been a bit of a rollercoaster once again, not helped by the cool, wet weather and the reappearance in New England of potato blight - which, to make things even more fun, also affected the tomato crop. So I've been busy, with things both good and bad, but it's time to try to bring this blog up to date.
The bad stuff first. My father died in August. He'd been failing since January, when his doctors lost control of the congestive heart failure he'd been fighting for a couple of years. However, considering that he'd had serious heart problems for 37 years, starting with heart attacks and bypass surgery at the age of 38, I can't say it was exactly unexpected. And yet, considering how many times he'd rallied and beaten the latest problem, I'm still a little shocked. (He used to say, with some justice, that every time he developed a new symptom, medical science had just created the device to deal with it.)
The only good thing was that I was able to spend a bit more than a week with him in July while my mother was traveling - it was one of those situations where he was in fairly good shape, but wasn't able to stay alone just in case - so I feel as though I had a chance to say a proper goodbye. It was a good visit, carefully orchestrated: every morning we'd make our breakfasts, then he'd go read on the deck in the (sweltering!) sun and heat, while I'd write. At noon, he'd come in and announce where we were going for lunch that day - usually some extremely interesting dive that my mother didn't particularly like. (All this, he said, was in the interests of giving me inspiration for my books - it had nothing to do with, for example, how good the hot tamales are at Izzy's. Or the country cooking at Homer's. Or the gyros at Leo's.... You get the idea.) Then he'd take a nap, waking around 4 for a milkshake. (He had lost nearly 40 pounds, and needed to gain weight.) Then supper was promptly at 6:30, and the Tour de France coverage started at 7. And in between, we were able to talk. So, while I'm grieving, I at least don't feel that there was much of anything left unsaid.
At the same time that all of this was going on (and I've been to Little Rock more times in the last 3 months than I've been in the last 3 years), I've been getting quite a bit of writing done. The bootlegger story is into the solid draft stage, with 4 chapters complete; I have a lesbian pirate story coming out in a Lethe Press collection, Sisters of the Coast, sometime soon. (I'm guessing next summer, and will post the date when I have it.) I have a handful of other projects in the sketching and plotting stages - glass airships! The Sea of Louisiana! Weird science in Napoleon's army! And on top of that, I'm in negotiations for a group project that will be massively fun. I hope to have a proper announcement on that within the next couple of days, actually.
So.... A rollercoaster, indeed. But I think maybe I'm starting to hit the fun part of the ride.