Monday, February 27, 2012

Half a Roll of Duct Tape Later

The dead mouse smell from the wall was just too much, so I took off some of the wood paneling (thank goodness for the junky old wood paneling we never got around to replacing!) and cut through the plaster and lathe in a few places. Not good. I found the place where the smell was coming from, but it was a small opening to an inaccessible space. All I did was improve the ventilation into the room. And meanwhile, we've got windows open and a fan running in February!

Today I had an inspiration. Why not see if I could rig an exhaust duct running from the wall opening to a window? It worked for Apollo 13 (sort of), didn't it? Failure is not an option. So I bought a 20-foot length of flexible dryer duct and some extra duct tape. Also handy were some plastic sheeting and a "cone of shame" once used by one of our dogs after surgery. Here's the result:


The dryer duct is stretched across the floor, which isn't ideal, but who cares? That blob of plastic you see in the window is actually a powerful fan, with a big plastic cone and sheeting holding the duct tube in place. It works! Not perfectly, but we can close the other windows part way now, and actually stand to be in the rooms. Now we just have to wait for nature to finish the job. (Hurry. Hurry.)

Edit: It's not working as well as I would like. The rooms are definitely better than before, but still not really a place you want to hang around in. And I still have to keep the windows open.  (With snow predicted for Wednesday.)

I picked up another window fan to exhaust the room air and draw in fresh from neighboring rooms with windows open. Unfortunately, the fan -- one of those dual-fan units designed to fit in a window like an A/C -- doesn't really move that much air.  So... we're still hanging out in the kitchen or the bedrooms or in my office.  But at least we don't feel like we're going to keel over if we accidentally breathe when we walk through the dining and living rooms.

Edit: Three weeks later. The smell is finally gone, except for the very occasional, very faint whiff.  I've put the walls back together.  Life returns to normal.  Thank God!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Dead Skunk in the Middle of...

...the living room?

Almost. Something seems to have died in one of our living room walls. Mouse, probably. God, does it stink. We now have a fan running in the window 24 hours a day, venting the fumes. I forget how long it took to subside the last time this happened. A week? Two? I'm just grateful that we're having mild weather, so while it's driving up our heating bill, at least it's not happening during a cold snap.

I'm starting to think "three strikes and you're out" might be my new rule for rodents. First, mice chewed the spark plug wires in our car, to the tune of a few hundred bucks. Then the squirrels ate the wiring on our outdoor Christmas lights. Now this. I wonder if it died of insulation or copper poisoning.

I just hope it didn't chew the house wiring before it died. Auggh. Now, there's a thought.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Animal Friendships

Who doesn't love a story about inter-species friendships? A dog and an elephant? A cat and a crow? A hippo and a tortoise? A cat and a dolphin? A lion and its humans? Time Magazine compiled a dozen such stories in this video series. Click to the Time page to follow the sequence. (I'm starting you with #2, because I thought #1 was kind of dumb. But you can go back to it.) Be prepared to say, "Awwww..." a lot.

Now click that Time link to watch the others. Or wait! Why don't I list them here for you?

And then watch this one, about a family of gorillas who strolled in to visit a tourist village.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Boskone 2012

It's Boskone time again. Boskone is a regional science fiction convention, drawing attendees from all over New England, NYC, and parts farther away. It's one of three major conventions held every year in the Boston area (Arisia and Readercon being the other two). I'll be there this weekend: Friday evening, Saturday during the day and perhaps the evening, and Sunday morning. The con is held at the Boston Westin Waterfront.

I'm on several panels Saturday, and will be autographing at 5 pm Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, I'll be doing a panel on audiobooks with two estimable colleagues, Bruce Coville (author and founder of Full Cast Audio), and Bob Kuhn, audiobook narrator (including my still-in-progress audiobook of Neptune Crossing). 

If you're at the con, look me up! 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Writers Do

How people see writers, and writers see themselves.

Kind of reminds me of this.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Have an Astronomically Romantic Valentine's Day!

Settle in with a mug of good coffee or hot chocolate, pop the video up to full-screen, set the sound to romantically soft, and enjoy this with a friend (real or imaginary). From Randy Halverson of

Temporal Distortion from Randy Halverson on Vimeo. (Click and scroll down to read about what you're seeing, and how it was done. Also, note the composer of the music: Bear McCreary of BSG fame.)

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Dragon Space Gets a New Face

The indie-pub gurus all say that the cover of an ebook can make or break sales. I don't know if they're right or not, but I'm putting it to the test. Since I released Dragon Space: A Star Rigger Omnibus in mid-2011, sales have been slow. (Except during my holiday sale, when I dropped the price from $6.99 to $.99 for a week. That goosed things, but I couldn't keep it at that price forever.) Dragon Space is a boxed set, or omnibus ebook, of two of my Star Rigger novels, Dragons in the Stars and Dragon Rigger. It includes the beautiful map of the dragon-realm-in-interstellar-space drawn for the original Tor paper edition of Dragon Rigger by Elissa Mitchell.

Now, I really liked the first cover I used; I worked closely with designer Pat Ryan (who is also writer Pat Ryan, and who has since stopped designing covers in order to focus on her writing). She gave me just what I asked for. Here's the original cover:

But apparently it wasn't what the public asked for. So here's a new look, designed by Amanda Kelsey of Razzle Dazzle Design:

What do you think? Is it more of an eye-catcher? 

By the way, if you already own Dragon Space and wish you had it with this new cover, feel free to save the image from here and swap it into the book with Calibre or another free program. Or, drop me a note and I'll send you the updated book file. Or, you may be able to download it again from wherever you bought it.

Conversely, the same applies if you're just buying the book now, but wish you had it with the earlier cover.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012


No, I'm not holding a summit, or attending one. But that's the name of a novel by Richard Bowker, just released in ebook by the author himself. It's well worth a look, if you enjoy psychological thrillers with believable characters and crisp, vivid writing. Summit was originally published by Bantam in 1989, and is now available again for the first time in many years.

If we're going to be forthcoming here, I suppose I should fess up that I was one of the critique group readers who can claim all sorts of credit (riiiiight...) for the quality of the novel. Seriously, though, Richard Bowker has been part of the writing group I'm in for over thirty years, and we got to experience the book's gestation and birth, and even contribute a little in the way of helpful criticism. Here’s the description from the Amazon page:

She is the most dangerous person in the world — a powerful psychic used to turn loyal American operatives into KGB double agents. Beautiful Valentina, however, has one weakness — her infatuation with Daniel Fulton, the brilliant, enigmatic American pianist. Valentina hopes her love for Fulton will free her from the KGB. Instead, it traps her into using her powers one final time. Success will change the course of history. Failure will doom the only person she loves. One woman controls the fate of America... at the Summit.

You can't tell from the product pages, but according to Rich, they're DRM-free.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Outstanding Psychologist

A little reflected glory here. On January 26, my brother Charles S. Carver received an award for distinguished contributions to the field of personality psychology. The Jack Block Award was given by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)—the largest organization of social and personality psychologists in the world—"in recognition of his research accomplishments over the past thirty years which have shaped modern personality psychology." It was presented at the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, in San Diego. The announcement didn't say anything about his contributions to football spectatorship or beer appreciation, but I'm sure they were thinking it. (Photo by his lovely wife, Dr. Youngmee Kim.)

Well done!

Edit: You can read more about the award, and Chuck's work, here.  

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Free Thrillers and Beautiful Bookstores

Interesting links spanning the whole book world have come across my desk in the last twenty-four hours. 

Free ebooks!
Five popular mystery/thriller writers are giving away books like popcorn today and tomorrow (through Feb. 2). J.A. Konrath, Blake Crouch, J. Carson Black, Lee Goldberg, and Scott Nicholson have joined forces to give away a big selection of their ebooks, plus ten Kindle Fires and a bunch of gift cars. Oh, and a generous library donation! If you like thrillers or know someone who does, check out the details and click free links at Big Kindle Boogie.

What's the (book) world coming to?
The Authors Guild weighs in on some recent history of the publishing and book retail world. Is Amazon the innovator or the anti-Christ?* Is Barnes and Noble our last, best hope against crushing monopoly? Join the fray, or just read about it, at the Authors Guild blog

*For what it's worth, I think Amazon is a little of both. 

World's most beautiful bookstores
Let's not forget physical books. Take a tour of twenty of the most glorious physical bookstores in the world! You could walk these aisles for days!

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