April 30th, 2013

squirrel king

Urban wildlife update

Just dropping in to share a charming urban-wildlife discovery: A few days ago, a robin made a nest in the ladder under the eaves of my garage. Well, it seems she's laid her eggs and is now incubating them. She saw me photographing her, so started eying me:

She wasn't fond of my mowing yesterday. Yes, the ground finally dried enough here in Lawrence, KS, to crop the jungle that had sprung up in the last few days of warmth. We went directly from winter (snow a week or two ago, freezing nights just a few days ago) to summer, and the grass has been exploding upward, unevenly, such that the yard looked like abandoned property. No more!

In other urban-wildlife news, my buddy Spot the Squirrel has taught two of his buddies (first-year squirrels) his little trick for getting food whenever he's hungry: First, he draws attention by standing on the fence outside the kitchen window, looking cute while trying to catch your eye:

Next, he jumps on top of the grill, right outside the back door, peering around the corner into the kitchen. If that doesn't work, he climbs onto the sliding-screen door and peeks inside, as demonstrated here:

If no one's in the kitchen when he does that, he starts leaping onto the screen - a rather noisy event that even gets my attention while working upstairs in my office. Well, now a young male and a pregnant young female have learned how to get more food, faster. I would like to think that these intelligent little critters have learned from one another a rich survival technique that their behavior earns reward, but I suspect it's more along the lines of they have trained the humans how to respond.

Apologies for the rare and intermittent posts; this semester has been killing me. So much work, so much unnecessary work-stress, so much prepping for Science Fiction Summer... yowza, it's almost May!

Hope you're doing well!

write hard die free

Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop: Nearing Last Call for Applications!

Learn how to write SF that sells. Using the short-story form, we help writers master the elements that create great stories. Since 1985.

Less than three weeks left to apply to be part of this year's Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction...

Science Fiction Grand Master James Gunn - who founded the Center for the Study of SF at the University of Kansas and taught the workshop from 1985 to 2010 - joins this summer's SF Writing Workshop for Week One of the Workshop.

More good news: Andy Duncan once again serves as guest author for Week Two of the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop. Welcome back, Jim and Andy! Author and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick, who served as guest author from 1996 to 2010, has led the Workshop since 2011.

For 2013, the Workshop meets from June 2 - 14, followed by the Campbell Awards and Conference, from June 13 - 16, which in turn is followed by the two-week Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction (short stories this summer).

Gunn joins us for the first week of the Workshop, for lunches throughout, and for the Conference; Andy joins us for the second week plus the Conference; and our Campbell Award- and Sturgeon Award-winning authors are usually on hand for the last day or two of the Workshop to share their expertise. During the last day or two of the second week, we also expect to have both our Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award-winning authors plus Kij Johnson and other Campbell Conference-attending authors and editors on hand talking about the business of writing.

Bonus: Attendees receive free admission to the Campbell Conference!

The Workshop is a fantastic experience, intended especially for writers who have just begun to publish or who need that final bit of insight or skill to become a published author. We work with all brands of speculative fiction, including horror, fantasy, magical realism, slipstream, speculative philosophy, all genres of science fiction, and so on, and it's a wonderful way to bond with fellow writers in a friendly and dedicated atmosphere. Plus we go out to dinner every night at a different restaurant in downtown Lawrence, watch lots of (both admirable and awful) SF film, and write our brains out.

Since 2011, it's also available for KU graduate credit as ENGL757. If you're a grad student who needs summer credit to accelerate that graduation date, perfect! Most attendees, however, simply enroll as a professional workshop rather than for credit.

Interested? This is a great opportunity to gain insights from some of the most-respected authors in the field. We are still open for applications through May 20, but sooner is better as we usually fill early. See the website for details, and drop me a note right away so I can reserve you a spot.

Know a writer who might be interested? Please pass this on. And teachers, please spread the word to interested students.