Day: April 24, 2011

Hugo Award Nomination

This was written two weeks ago, but I could not post it until after Hugo Nominations were publicly announced:

Through the joys of caller ID, I knew it was Howard calling before I picked up the phone.
“Hi hon. How is Canada?” I asked, cheerful to hear from him while he’s off at a convention and I am home with the kids. He was out in the world, giving presentations and promoting the comic which pays our bills.
“Canada is good. Email is better.” He answered. I could hear the smile in his voice and I knew what was coming next before he said the words. “Schlock Mercenary Massively Parallel was nominated for a Hugo.”
I smiled through my sigh of relief. The comic has been nominated for this Science Fiction award for the past two years, but it came in last place both times. Howard had all but convinced himself that he wouldn’t even make the ballot this year. The fact that he did, that we did, is a boost. One that apparently doesn’t get old.
“Yay!” I said into the phone. It doesn’t say enough, but Howard knows what I mean.
“Know what else? Writing Excuses made the ballot too, best related work.”
My smile inched into a grin. We’d been hoping for this. The wording on the best related category had changed so that podcasts were eligible. I could think of nothing more worthy than the weekly podcast Howard did with Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells.
“Oh wonderful!” I said. It was just as inadequate as yay, but words really can’t express the rush of good feeling I was trying to send to my husband so far away from me. It seems we’re always sharing the Hugo nominations over the phone. The second weekend in April is popular for events which involve Howard.
I thought ahead to August and the award ceremony which would be held at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno. During the nomination period I’d silently told myself that if Howard made the ballot, I would get a new dress. He’d made the ballot twice. I’d stick to one dress, but my feet fairly danced with joy. I would have friends with which to share the emotional crucible of award nomination. Instead of feeling slightly misplaced at the pre-Hugo party, I would have good friends to stand with. If the nomination ended with an award, we could rejoice together. If not, group commiseration was built-in.
But all that was in the future. Standing in the kitchen, pushing the phone to my ear, and grinning, I could only feel the joy and honor to be nominated. It meant that out there in the world of Science Fiction, people liked Howard’s work enough to put his comic on the ballot. That truly matters, because we love this genre and we love the people in it. The fact that they love Schlock is heartwarming.
“The hard part,” Howard continued “Is being here at a science fiction convention, with people who would love to rejoice, and not being able to tell them yet.”
“So call Brandon and Dan. You can all be glad together.”
We talked of other things for awhile before he had to go, both of us smiling more than the conversational topics called for. Then we hung up and my feet did another cheerful little dance as I walked over to return the phone to its charger. In two more days he would return home and we could celebrate together.

Congratulations to all of the Nominees!

Word Sketches of the Tayler Family on Easter Sunday

Howard stood in the kitchen holding his phone. He’d had a hard week, not because of external events, but because the work load he had assigned to himself was crushing. Through a super human feat of will and endurance, he’d gotten the work done. Yet the next week still had huge quantities of work to do. In that tired evening amid all that work, Howard wanted a hamburger. It wasn’t just about food, he also wanted company and I could not go. He made several calls, but others were busy. He scrolled through his list of contacts and said with a sigh “My phone is full of awesome people with whom I’d love to go out for burgers, but most of them live too far away.” This is the shape of Howard’s life, full of work and friends.


Kiki’s pencil moved across the paper as the words of the speaker filled the chapel. She was creating a comic labeled balance which featured a burning candle. I could not see much else from where I sat, but I suspect that she was trying to capture on paper the experiences she’s had lately with finding direction and purpose in her life. I watched her hands move surely, directing the pencil and eraser with precision. In mere weeks she would be 16, old enough to date according to long-standing family rule. This birthday marker would arrive after prom was over. “I’m kind of glad.” She confessed to me quietly “I didn’t want to deal with all that yet.” I was glad too, for many of the same reasons. Dating was coming along with driving, a first job, and countless other grown up things. I watched her confidence with the pencil and knew she would find the same sureness in other areas of her life as well.


Link was taller than me. It happened several months before, but still startled me every time he stood close. Somewhere in my mind he was still the toddler running across the lawn to hand a broken-stemmed blue flower to me. Back then I could scoop him into my arms and carry him. Before too much longer he would be able to carry me if he chose. Link’s new size and strength regularly startled him as well. He kept bumping into things, accidentally damaging his surroundings and sometimes the feelings of those nearby. “I’m not good at words” he said as part of an apology. It was an apology he made grudgingly, not quite understanding why his earlier words were wrong. Words would come to him, as will grace and confidence in his body. He had already begun learning the things he needed.


Gleek looked up at me. Howard happened to be in my field of vision and looking in my direction as well. For a moment I could see that they had the same eyes. Gleeks are more brown and smaller, but the shape was the same. They also shared the same impatient spark that drives them toward excellence and the pursuit of new things. Gleek looked away and the moment passed, but I tucked it into my memory.


I scooped Patch into my arms, he wriggled uncomfortably and I realized that he’d grown too big to be scooped that way. I put him down and we walked up to bed together. Patch was quite calm about being bigger. It fit his plan. He could picture himself getting bigger than me because his older brother had already done so. In the fall Patch would be headed for a new school. At first the thought of it has sent him into a crying panic. I told him he did not have to go. Then we visited the school and talked about what it was like there. It allowed Patch to picture how things would be. He decided that going was something he wanted to do. There would be tears in the process of adapting. I knew that, but I also knew how to help my son plan. Planning helps him feel happy.


Writing a word sketch of myself is tricky. I can only see myself in mirrors, reflected by my surroundings. I know that I often ask too much of myself. I am frequently stressed and anxious and I struggle not to spill these things onto anyone else. However I am also blessed with a clear sense of purpose. This has not always been the case in my life, but it is true right now. I am glad of it all.