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April 02, 2007

Spring is Here, Spring is Here...

... life is Skittles and life is beer. Or, combining the two, Skittlebrau. Mmmmm... Skittlebrau.

First, if you'd like to see more lovely pictures of a spring day here at the Scalzi Compound, complete with cherry blossoms, basketball-playing children and an impossibly green lawn the size of some of the smaller states in the union, go here. You won't be disappointed, and if you're disappointed, maybe your standards are just too damn high.

Second, as many of you know, April is going to be an amazingly busy month for me. In addition to work on the Android's Dream sequel, and the release of The Last Colony, and the continuing SFWA presidential campaign, I have a tremendous amount of other travel and activity. I'll be going to San Diego this week to give a presentation at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law; next week I'm doing fiction-writing lectures at the writer's workshop at Sinclair College here in Dayton, the weekend after that I'm at Penguicon in Michigan and then after that, I start the book tour, which will see me on the road through the second week of May.

What does this mean for you, o dear and treasured reader of the Whatever? Well, to begin, my publishing schedule for the Whatever is likely to change slightly. I've been updating here at will, and often in the morning, but through the start of the book tour I'm going to be devoting the morning and early afternoon hours around here to working on the novel, so I'm unlikely to be updating around here until the afternoon. And once I am on the book tour, I'm unlikely to be updating at any great length, because all the traveling and speaking and signing and wild groupie carnality is likely to tucker me out. Indeed, I am thinking of asking a couple of people to come in as guest bloggers during this time to keep the shelves stocked. I'll make a decision about that sometime soon; clearly, I'll let you know.

The main takeaway here is that April is likely to be the craziest month I've had in a very long time and will require some forebearance on your part as I fiddle with my publishing schedule so that my head doesn't explode trying to get everything done that I need to get done. I hope you understand; I'm sure you do.

The good news is that so far everything seems to be well. The writing of TAD2 is coming along fine; the first chapter features multiple simultaneous attempted political assassinations on a golf course, and after that it gets a little weird. I'm trying to get out all the author interviews I have scheduled for April and May out the door to the authors in the next week or so in order to have them ready to go when I'm on the road; I've added a couple exciting names to the interview list, who I think you're going to enjoy. And I'm trying to co-ordinate seeing friends and Whatever folks when I am on the tour, so hopefully I'll get to hang with all y'all when I'm on the road.

It's all very exciting, and I'm having a lot of fun with it, and I think I'll be glad when it's all over and I get to be relaxed and at home once more. For now, however, I juggle. At least it's good weather for it.

Posted by john at April 2, 2007 12:09 AM

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Shawn Powers | April 2, 2007 12:54 AM

We still have giant hunk-tards of filthy black ice/snow scattered about up here, just north of Penquicon country. And fresh snow is the forecast for Wednesday. I never thought Ohio would be south enough for me to be jealous of the weather.

And dayum, John, do you spraypaint that lawn? Could it be any greener?

Ryan | April 2, 2007 12:56 AM

Hi, I've been following your blog for some time now. I really appreciate your blog concerning the realities of fantasy/science fiction writing. Honestly, it was a wake up call. I'm writing because I have a question that I hope you can help me with and because you seem to be really connected to your readers. I'm in the editing process of my first novel, it's fantasy genre. I just found out I'm deploying to Afghanistan in November. When I send my manuscript out to agents, in my query letter should I let them know that I will be overseas by the time they reply back to me? I really think that my military background (US ARMY INFANTRY) helps give some of the scenes in my book credibility, but I don't want my chances to suffer because I'll be out of the US for a year. Any insight you could provide would be great. Thanks in advance.

claire | April 2, 2007 01:03 AM

Wow, that's a lot of yard to mow. Maybe you have one of those super-wide tractor mowers- that'd be kinda cool (once or twice, anyway ;)

As a kid, I enjoyed doing figure eights on the riding mower, but it lost its charm once I had to mow the yard without missing any parts of it.

Keith | April 2, 2007 01:30 AM

Tom Lehrer's "life is Skittles and life is beer" wasn't a reference to the candy, which wouldn't be invented for several years; it was a reference to the British pub game that is one of the precursors to bowling.

ian | April 2, 2007 01:41 AM

that might be, but skittles taste good. and i'm crappy at the pub game

Shawn Powers | April 2, 2007 01:47 AM

Especially the tropical Skittles. Mmm...

Nina A | April 2, 2007 01:49 AM

What a gorgeous lawn! Can I get married on it?

Nina A | April 2, 2007 01:50 AM

Gorgeous lawn..Hey , can I get married on it?

gottacook | April 2, 2007 02:04 AM

Good to see, John, that you're a Lehrerite - I was lucky enough to have parents who not only had the original versions of all three Lehrer albums in the house when I was growing up, but actually saw him in concert around the time of the live album from which this line derives (the opening of the song "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park," for the uninitiated). A great influence on those lucky enough to meet him via his records.

Nina A | April 2, 2007 04:14 AM

Ack! Mea Maxima Culpa!
Really not sure what happened-apologies all round.

Tom Nixon | April 2, 2007 05:17 AM

Thomas Jefferson School of Law? What's the topic?

John Scalzi | April 2, 2007 06:57 AM


I am of course well aware of what Lehrer refers to; however, being strictly accurate would not have afforded me the ability to link to Skittlebrau. And that would have been wrong.

chang, who is not chang | April 2, 2007 08:14 AM

And yet not one picture of Ghlaghghee. You simply don't know what to do with the awesome power of the Whatever.

I reluctantly volunteer to be a guest blogger. The Beauteous Ghlaghghee deserves it.

The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

Cassie | April 2, 2007 08:16 AM

Ryan, I'd suggest you stop by Miss Snark at http://www.misssnark.blogspot.com and ask your question there. She's an agent who could answer your question.

Thanks for serving, Ryan. Be safe.

Joel Finkle | April 2, 2007 09:28 AM

On the Tom Lehrer note, there is a fantastic CD boxed set containing live and studio versions of the first two albums (I have a friend who has the first album on a set of 78s, or at least he did while we were in high school), in addition to literally everything else he's recorded, including the Electric Company songs, and one new one, "I'm spending Hannukah in Santa Monica"

Read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer

Ed Powell | April 2, 2007 10:40 AM

My god man... are those sandtraps in your yard???

Jim Wright | April 2, 2007 10:53 AM


Get a Power of Attorney before you go (Just like your Senior NCO told you to!). Assign a Special POA just for dealing with the manuscript to a trusted friend or relative. I'd recommend you go off-base and pay the small fee to a local Notary Public, that way you can get a two-year SPOA instead of the one-year the base legal office usually issues (because those 1-year deployments somehow seem to get extended lately...). Then make sure that you describe the situation and point of contact in the cover letter.

Don't wait to submit until after deployment. Regards and stay safe.

Jon | April 2, 2007 11:44 AM

Re: Spraypainting the yard

Actually, at my previous work location they did exactly that. When the grass would start to dry and become brown in late summer, they would spray-paint it green. If they had been more careful and not gotten any paint on the sidewalk, I might not have noticed.

Chang, the real O.C. | April 2, 2007 11:58 AM

God damn son. That's a green lawn. I want mine that color. Maye by the end of April.

Kate | April 2, 2007 11:59 AM

Thanks for the pics, John. I want your camera, my Canon has seen it's last days.

Regardless, it's a completely dreary day up in Connecticut, and everything is still that putrid dead brown color amplified by ominous grey clouds.

I think we're supposed to get more snow showers this week as well. It's definitely not easy been green.

Good luck with the book tour and everything else in between.

Jon R | April 2, 2007 01:09 PM

Scalzi in San Diego? I'm in San Diego. How do I get in on "wild groupie carnality" without attending Law School?

John Scalzi | April 2, 2007 01:13 PM

Well, Jon, you can wait until May 1, when I'm back in San Diego for my book tour; I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy then.

gottacook | April 2, 2007 01:54 PM

Joel Finkle: Are you sure about the 78s? The first Lehrer album was the self-released ("Lehrer Records") 10-inch LP and I don't think the then-24-year-old Lehrer could have afforded to release in two formats.

Jon R | April 2, 2007 02:27 PM

.... aw, shucks. For students only? Darn you elitist law school!

So what’s your topic? Their website does not appear to be updated since Feb.

SupRspi / Jeff | April 2, 2007 02:38 PM

Wicked pics John. The cheery cherry blossoms are a nice touch on the Whatever background. Nice of you to use my second favorite flower for me.

Care to use some Lilacs later on?


Steve Buchheit | April 2, 2007 02:42 PM

"wild groupie carnality", invisible squirrel friends?

Must... resist... furry... joke... arrgghhhh!

Jeremiah | April 2, 2007 03:06 PM

I wish I had a lawn...

Dr. Phil | April 2, 2007 03:33 PM

I haven't mowed my lawn for several years, though we do have a big wheeled string trimmer for cutting back the stuff along the driveway. Instead, we let the weeds grow and raise Monarch butterflies. Much nicer, much quieter and not so much two-cycle exhaust smell. The last week the birds have been singing their little hearts out in our pine trees -- it's tough to be so virtuous.

Dr. Phil

Nathan | April 2, 2007 04:00 PM

Mmmmm! Skittlebrau.

Tastes like ass...only sweeter.

PixelFish | April 2, 2007 04:23 PM

Does this mean the pigeons are safe?

(My dad is a big Lehrer fan. We were raised on this and We Will All Go Together When We Go, and the Masochism Tango and The Elements and...well, you get the idea.)

Also, there is a fairly good chance that my boyfriend and I will miss your tour stop in SF because of unfortunate geographic positioning. (As in, despite our best efforts and scrawling "Scalzi" on the calendar, we may be on the opposite coast.)

sxKitten | April 2, 2007 04:33 PM

Good luck with Spring. We've had green lawns and cherry blossoms for a couple of weeks now, yet woke up this morning to snow. Snow-covered cherry blossoms are Just Plain Wrong.

Queenie | April 2, 2007 04:45 PM


When I was in eighth grade, I got 50 extra credit points by being able to sing 'The Elements' a capella. In front of the class. I also performed 'Alma' on the piano as a complement to a project about Mahler. Tom Lehrer is still alive; he's still teaching math (without 'New Math') and making sarcastic comments to interviewers. He also used to work with Garrison Keillor (of NPR's "Prairie Home Companion" and Honda ads), the Electric Company, and--believe it or not--he went to camp with Steven Sondheim.

Wow. Okay, then. Athena looks really cute with a basketball, and I'm glad spring has arrived on Planet Scalzi, along with blooming cherry trees, a general state of Skittlebrau, and happy outside photography. But no Ghlaghaghee.

Ryan | April 2, 2007 05:12 PM

Thanks for all the advice Cassie and Jim. :) I'll definitely check out that website and I'll look into the POA. Thanks again, i'll be sure to let everyone know how it turns out.

Old Jarhead | April 2, 2007 06:35 PM

"Also, there is a fairly good chance that my boyfriend and I will miss your tour stop in SF because of unfortunate geographic positioning."

A Brit, and Italian and a Frenchman were discussing their respective nationalities expertise in lovemaking. The Italian said:

"Italians are noted lovers and romantics, we know 15 different ways to make love."

The Frenchman laughed:

"Mon Dieu, such amateurs, we French know 55 ways to make love."

The Brit says:

"I've been reading the Whatever and PixelFish said something about a geographic position"

"Sacre Bleu!" said the Frenchman, "56!"

John | April 3, 2007 08:26 AM

Jeez, John, how long does it take you to mow your lawn?!

Dick | April 4, 2007 02:27 AM

I'm another new fan, thanks to Old Man's War, but this comment is about the beginning of the post, "Spring is here...life is skittles, life is beer..." Do we have a Tom Lehrer fan here? If so, you'd be the third person I know, besides myself, who has heard "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park." I think I'd like your sense of humor. Then there's Lehrer's takeoff on the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared"...

Dick | April 4, 2007 02:33 AM

I gues that will teach me to read the comments before I post...glad to see a few more Lehrerites out there. But I have never heard his "I'm spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica"...yet. That, I think, will take a prominent place on my list of Important Things to Do.

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