Exactly a year ago today, I picked Dozer up from the shelter, coaxed him into a crate in the back of the car, and the little sucker’s been with us ever since.
Here are some facts about Dozer.
He’s about a year and a half. He’s some mixture of yorkie, maybe chihuahua, probably Jack Russell, and god knows what. He was in two shelters before he ended up at Helen Woodward Animal Center, which is where we adopted him from. Why wasn’t he adopted from his other shelters? It remains a mystery. Of all the dogs at Helen Woodward that day, he was the one who came to the front of his kennel, calmly looked me in the eye, and then, when we test-drove him out in the yard, jumped up on a bench and calmly sat next to us. It was like he was saying, “Yeah, you should probably claim dibs on me.” So we did.
The next day, right before the shelter worker handed me his leash, I asked if he ever barked. Because up to that point, he’d been absolutely quiet. And, practically before the question was out of my mouth, he started barking at a fake dog across the room. Then, as I walked him out, he barked at some goats. In the parking lot, he barked at some puppies. Teaching him not to lose his shit during on-leash encounters is an ongoing project, but he’s getting better. He tries hard to be a good dog.
He’s also a really funny, friendly little dude, and he pretty much owns us. He’s my buddy, and he’s family.
I forgot to post this last month, but I’d had this post-it stuck to my desk lamp for a long time last year. When I turned the book in to my editor, I finally got to cross it out.
And, yes, I did hear it in this tone of voice.
There’s nothing quite like a solitary road trip. Scenery, truck stops, miles and time … I’ve taken a few such journeys at critical junctions in my life, and while some of those hours on the road were lonely, they delivered me to places I was glad to arrive at. And I’m not necessarily talking about the Comfort Inn in Parowan, Utah. The expansive landscapes and travel free from the dictates of schedule and clock invariably change one’s perspective and invite introspection. On a road trip, movement equals change.
The road trip I took with Lisa last week to New Mexico, on the other hand, was basically an excuse to eat red chili.
Just an hour outside San Diego, the scenery was already nice and not at all beach-y.
Our first stop was in Tempe, Arizona, where we were joined by a large gathering of friends and former colleagues at Four Peaks, my dearly missed stand-by brewpub and home of my beloved Eight Street Ale. Had a great 4.5-hour hangout with awesome food, outstanding beer, and fine company.
In Albuquerque, we ate food. Here’re some burritos. This one was dinner, from Mary and Tito’s. Carne adovada inside.
This one was breakfast, from Perea’s. Eggs and hashed browns inside.
But as delicious as the food was, the best thing about the several hours in Albuquerque was visiting Alamosa Books. They specialize in children’s and YA, but they also have a great stock of adult books in all their fiction sections, which are mixed by genre rather than age. So you’ll find middle-grade, YA, and adult science fiction all in the same section, which strikes me as sensible and useful. I loved that place and want to go back.
From there, it was up to Santa Fe, where things were seen and food was eaten. Here are some of the things.
Stained glass reflected on a pew at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi:
Smiles a lot and loves wine:
And many other things, besides.
From Santa Fe, it was back to San Diego, with a brief return stop in Tempe. There are things I miss about living near Phoenix. One of them is Carlsbad Tavern, home of the phenomenal green chili carne adovada burrito, which is my favorite thing to eat, ever.
Also, it being a road trip, there were random things. Like the central message of this mural at the Sky City truck stop:
And there were profound things, like the Bass Pro Shop next to one of our hotels. I’d never been inside a Bass Pro Shop. It was the size of a zeppelin hangar and the ceiling was eight miles high and they stocked pink pellet guns for girls and there were live fish and taxidermy and a fudge shop.
And that was the road trip. It was great. I hope I get to do another one soon.
Check out this art sent by the mom of a second-grade reader who chose Kid vs. Squid for his first “real” book report project. The assignment was to design a breakfast cereal based on the book. I love his rendition of Tommy and Dickie, the jellyfish boys. “Made with real Sea Creatures.” Is this not AWESOME?!?
I’m really excited about this one. I’m a huge fan of my friend Sarah‘s Magic Thief books. Winterling is even better. These are my more or less official thoughts about Winterling, from the blurb I volunteered:
Sarah Prineas conjures a world of frost and snow and magic and peril. At the core of a story that doesn’t skimp on thrilling chases and dangerous secrets, we have Fer, a compelling hero readers will care about and root for. Joining Fer is a fascinating cast of allies and enemies, from grouchy Rook to snarling wolf people. Winterling captures the best elements of classic fantasy tales and puts them in a fresh, electric new context. What a marvelous book!
Here are my less official but nonetheless heartfelt thoughts: Hooboy, do I love this kickass book!
I’m heading out on a trip early tomorrow morning, but I’m going to make a point of hitting a bookstore on the road, because I want this thing in my hands on opening day. I humbly suggest you consider doing the same. You won’t regret it.
I didn’t blog much in 2011. My blogging style is mostly short observations and in-the-moment pics and random silly stuff, and I put most of my energy for that kind of thing into Twitter. A lot of the people I trade blog comments with are also on Twitter, but if you’re not one of them, I missed you this year.
The Boy at the End of the World came out.
I did a bunch of signings and did some school and library visits, and I got to meet a bunch of great readers.
With my friends Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, and Heather Shaw, I published a whole slew of flash pieces at Daily Science Fiction.
I published a few short work-for-hire pieces with an educational publisher.
I wrote the first book in the Osteomancer’s Son trilogy, which should be out from Tor in early 2013.
Lisa and I went to the snow in Idyllwild.
I went to Blue Heaven with some of my very best writer friends (and just all-around very best friends), and it was very cold and we sought shelter in a castle and there were dead birds around. It was awesome. I love my Blue Heaven crew.
San Diego continued to be a beautiful place to live.
And we got Dozer. He’s hilarious. I’ve laughed more in 2011 than I have since forever. He’s an awesome little dog, a pain in the ass, and a great buddy.
Life was good to me in 2011. Odds are strong that if you’re reading this, you contributed to that goodness, and I am grateful. I leaned a lot on my friends during times when I was struggling with work and spirit, and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such great friends. I hope your 2011 had some good in it. I hope 2012 is even better.
This weekend I wrote a 600-word scene about this guy:
In the scene, he saves a puppy and gets run over by a truck. Then he has to go to school with parts of his robotic brain poking through his scalp, which is a problem for him, because nobody’s supposed to know he’s a robot. His teacher’s strict no-hats-in-class policy complicates things.
Also, I can’t draw feet. (This is a prose project, but I’m drawing the characters for my own use and amusement.)
That is all.