2016: A Personal Perspective

2016 has been one wild ride. On the political front, Britain voted to leave the European Union and the United States had the most divisive presidential election I’ve ever seen. We lost a lot of talented people this year ranging from Vera Rubin, the astronomer who discovered dark matter, to entertainers that touched many of us including David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Gene Wilder, and Anton Yelchin. Despite all that, 2016 has actually been a rather good year, personally.

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This year, I published two novels. In February, Sky Warrior Publishing released the third of my Clockwork Legion series, The Brazen Shark in which a ship captain takes two dear friends on a special honeymoon getaway, only to have it interrupted by samurai air pirates attempting to overthrow the Japanese emperor. In December, Lachesis Publishing released my horror novel The Astronomer’s Crypt, which tells the story of astronomers, ghosts, drug dealers, and a monster from the beginning of time who collide at a remote observatory during a violent thunderstorm. You can learn about both novel on the books page at my website.

In addition to the novels, four of my short stories appeared in anthologies. “Arachne’s Stepchildren” about the potential hazards of discovering new life appeared in The Martian Anthology. “Reckoning at the Alamo” which tells about Marshall Larissa Seaton and Professor Maravilla battling a Lovecraftian entity from across space appeared in Lost Trails 2: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West. “The Jackalope Bandit” which tells about one of Professor Maravilla’s jackalope harvesters being used to rob banks and payrolls appeared in Den of Antiquity. Finally, my retelling of Grimm’s “The Dragon and his Grandmother” appeared in the anthology Gaslight and Grimm which was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. You can learn about all these books at the short story page of my website.


I feel privileged to continue my work at Kitt Peak National Observatory where I operate the Mayall 4-meter and the WIYN 3.5-meter telescopes. This year, preparations began for the installation of a new cutting-edge instrument at the Mayall. This will be an instrument that will take spectra of 5000 objects at one time. Starting in 2018, the telescope will be used to survey the entire sky in hopes of better understanding the phenomenon known as dark energy. Part of this year’s preparations included deployment of a prototype instrument, the beginning of a new imaging survey to identify targets for the spectrographic survey, and work on a new control system for the Mayall. As it turns out, I’ll be ringing in the new year at the Mayall, helping with a program looking at a sample of galaxies from the early universe.

Over the course of the year, I had the opportunity to make several nice trips. In April, I spent time with two friends at Vermillion Cliffs in Northern Arizona. In May, I traveled to Baltimore for Balticon and the release of the Gaslight and Grimm anthology. In July, I traveled with my family to California for my nephew’s wedding.

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Speaking of family, my oldest daughter started a paid computer internship at Tulane University this year and opened her own Etsy shop. Meanwhile my youngest daughter has embarked on the adventure of high school. I couldn’t be more proud of these two young women.

Perhaps the year’s scariest moment came in November when my wife’s tire blew out on the way home from TusCon in Tucson, Arizona. The car spun on the interstate and went into the mesquite bushes between Texas Canyon and Wilcox on I-10. Fortunately my wife and youngest daughter who were in the car were all right, but the car was totaled. The story had a happy ending when my wife was able to use the insurance money to pay for a nice, albeit used, replacement car.

As I say, this year has been something of a wild ride. Although I am admittedly apprehensive about some things happening on the world and national stages, I have several good things on the horizon as well. Come back on Monday and learn about some things to look forward to in 2017. In the meantime, I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.


Reading, Writing, Traveling

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This has been a busy travel week for me. I spent last weekend at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego where I had a great time connecting with quite a few friends and fellow steampunks. I returned home to New Mexico for about 48 hours, where I finished the rough draft of The Astronomer’s Crypt for Lachesis Publishing. Now I’m in Seattle for my college roommate’s wedding. My present to him and his lovely bride is a special short story I wrote for them. I won’t say more just now since it’ll spoil some of the surprise if either of them read this!

I also wrote a guest blog post for Lachesis Publishing, discussing sources of inspiration for my works. You can read that here: lachesispublishing.com/?p=3538

I often travel by car because the places I travel to are not easily reached by air travel or because it’s simply more economical for me with my little fuel-efficient vehicle. However, this travel season, I have had to fly some. One of the things I like about flying is that it affords me the opportunity to do some reading. Some of the reading has been for my own pleasure—which is vitally important for a writer, since it provides inspiration and can help a writer get a better handle on technique—but with all the writing I’m doing, the air travel gives me the opportunity to step back, read, and revise my own writing. Of course, this is another vitally important part of the process.

At this point, my wild west steampunk novel Lightning Wolves is due with the publisher in a little over a week. That’s all but complete. After that, I’ll be reading and revising my horror novel. Even with all this going on, I haven’t forgotten about Tales of the Talisman. The spring issue has been printed and copies are on their way to me. I hope to ship those out in a few days. If you can’t wait until then, they’re now available at Amazon.com.