Watch Bees on bookstore shelves!

Me finding Asimov's at Borders
Me finding Asimov's at the local Borders. Photo by Steven Brewer.

The August issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction with my story “Watch Bees” was on the shelf at the local Borders this evening!

My mom bought two copies, leaving just one on the shelf. (A fact possibly of interest to local folks who’re hoping to get a copy.)

I got a call from my dad, who said that he’d found a copy as well, but he bought his at the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo.

Watch Bees

“Watch Bees” is in Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 2011, Vol. 35, No. 8, edited by Shelia Williams.

Cover of August 2011 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction
Cover of August 2011 Asimov’s Science Fiction. Cover art by Jeroen Advocaat.

“Watch Bees” is in Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 2011, Vol. 35, No. 8, edited by Sheila Williams.

Picking his way through morning glory vines, over rolling chunks of old pavement, David made his way to the edge of the ditch. Kneeling down, he got close enough to the dandelions and clover to see that the bees visiting them were striped the distinctive orange-and-black of watch bees.

Looking up, David took in the farm as a whole. The paint on the farmhouse and barn wasn’t fresh, but it wasn’t peeling. The garden was big. The fields grew food, not just biofuel crops. He was six or seven miles from town, having rejected each of the farms he’d passed, but this one looked promising.

Update: “Watch Bees” has been reprinted in the Russian Magazine Esli!

Scones with clotted cream

Back in 1992, Jackie and I took a trip to England and Wales. We spent a week in London, a week in St. David’s (hiking on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path), and then a couple more days back in London visiting an old friend who took us out to dinner, to a play, and then to Bath to see the Roman ruins and other such stuff.

In Bath we had afternoon tea in the Pump Room with scones and clotted cream.

I was rather dubious of clotted cream (because of the name) but turned out to like it very much. (No surprise: There are an infinite number of yummy blends of fat and sugar.)

Upon returning, I kept my eye out for clotted cream, figuring that I could make my own scones, but I never saw any.

Just recently, I mentioned to Jackie that I wouldn’t mind getting some clotted cream to put on scones, and she suggested that Devonshire cream would be a lot like clotted cream. Turns out that Devonshire cream is what clotted cream is called in the US. Further, it turns out that our local grocery store has some! (We don’t yet know if it’s a standard item, or if they just got it in stock for the royal wedding or something.)

With Devonshire cream in hand, today I baked scones. I just grabbed a recipe off the internet that looked promising and followed the directions. (Almost: I replaced half the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.)

They turned out great. As good as any scones I’ve ever had.

Contributor’s copies!

Contributor's copies of Asimov'sI got my contributors copies of the August Asimov’s! It’s a treat to see my story in print.

I haven’t read it yet, but of course I flipped through it. Seeing the “next issue” section of the new issue prompted me to check out that section of the previous issue, which turns out to be available on-line. It mentions my story, saying:

Another new author, Philip Brewer, gives us a stinging tale about how to recover from the end of life as we know it in “Watch Bees.”

I hadn’t noticed that before; it’s sure fun to see.

The new issue should go on sale June 21st.

No accounting for taste

Refrigerator InteriorA former coworker, Brian Marick, complained about a lack of creative commons licensed photos of refrigerators. (He wanted an image to illustrate the concept of “code smell.”)

I happened to have a free moment, so I grabbed this quick snap of our refrigerator, and posted it it to flickr under an attribution license.

Now, first of all, it turns out that Brian was wrong. Apparently there’s a whole genre of refrigerator interior photos (see the pool “fridge fetish“) and mine is not the only one with a creative commons license.

But what’s struck me is that people seem drawn to the image. It’s already picked up 2 favorites.

It just goes to show that one is a poor judge of one’s own work. I have other photos that I spent a lot more time on—photos where I was trying to make a point or capture the beauty in a scene or document a moment in time—and how well I think I succeeded doesn’t really predict whether other people seem to find the image interesting or not.

It’s a lesson that I need to apply more to my writing. Just because I’m not sure a story is my best work is no reason to stick it in a drawer. That’s not to excuse slipshod work, but once I’ve done the best I can I need to be a little more willing to get the story out to editors. Maybe they’ll be drawn to it.

Volcanoes on Vacation

Jackie modeling Volcanoes on Vacation

Somebody came to my site after searching for information about the haiku earring parties at WisCon. That reminded me that I’d never gotten around to putting up a picture of Volcanoes on Vacation, the earrings I exchanged a haiku for at WisCon some years back.

So, here’s the picture.

I’ve lost my notes from that haiku earring party, so I don’t have the exact text of the haiku. I could probably recreate it, but the gist of it was one volcano lamenting the fact that they always vacation somewhere on the Pacific rim. I remember that the last line was, “Next year, Michigan!”

Jackie’s other earrings from haiku earring parties were documented here:

Elisem‘s haiku earring parties are always a highlight of WisCon for me. They’re a big part of the reason that I’m always sad when I have to miss a year.

Ten years since my Clarion

Ten years ago today was the first day of class at the 2001 Clarion. Steve Barnes talked about plot. (The stuff he talked about that day, together with some some ideas I got a few weeks later from Geoff Landis and some earlier instruction from Bruce Holland Rogers at his Flatiron Fiction Workshop, served as the basis for the article on story structure that I sold later that year to Speculations.)

Those six weeks at Clarion were great—only a handful of times in my life have I had that much fun. Clarion also had a huge impact on my life—everything I’ve done since then has been colored by the things I learned there.

I wouldn’t want to do Clarion again—it only works that way one time—but I would like to do another intensive workshop. Probably one aimed at novels, if I can get a novel written.

That’s for the future, though. Right now I need to write one more short story for my local writers group, then start revising some of the stories that they’ve already critiqued.

Wildlife audience for our exercise

This is the grassy spot near the rear of our apartment complex where we do our taiji practice.

Today’s practice was special because we had an audience: a rabbit, a squirrel, three crows, and two juvenile groundhogs showed up to take an interest in our activity. They didn’t seem troubled (although when a guy came past with a dog on a leash, the rabbit most definitely took notice).

First thing in the morning I’d gone for a run and spotted a gazillion cedar waxwings. (Note: number of cedar waxwings approximate.) Actually, they would have been in this picture, too. Just past the little hill is the Copper Slough, and just across it is the path that runs around Kaufman lake, and it was just about here that I saw them.

I added a second lap to my usual run around Kaufman Lake, bringing the distance up to 2.41 miles—my longest run this season, and good progress toward getting back in shape.

After my run, Jackie and I went for a bike ride. We were testing both the route and ourselves for a possible ride to Philo in a few days. The ride to Philo, with a stop at the Philo Tavern for lunch, is our traditional first long ride of the year. Today’s ride covered the first half of the route to Philo, then headed back into town with a stop at Meadowbrook Park, making it a 17-mile loop. That went fine, so we figure the 28 mile round trip to Philo should be doable no problem.

We’re starting to get all sorts of wild ideas about possible long rides later in the summer. But our local wildlife audience is keeping things pretty wild right here at home.