First Time

Today, for the first time ever, I made baguettes.

I have made sandwich loaves, no-knead bread, Swedish braids, cinnamon twists, lemon loaves, pound cake, blueberry lemon bread, banana bread, and many other kinds of bread in my time, but never baguettes.

After an enlightening conversation with S.M. Stirling about writing and baking, I was inspired to give it a shot.

Baguette pan: purchased.

Initial recipe: selected. I’ll likely test out a few more but this looked like a decent place to start.

/insert hold music of your choice

Results? Pretty good! The finished loaves aren’t quite as pretty/large/browned as I’d like and I have a list of process items to tweak, but the taste and texture were both excellent. 

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

“It was not really Saturday night, at least it may have been, for they had long lost count of the days; but always if they wanted to do anything special they said this was Saturday night, and then they did it.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

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Photo by Bob Coyne on Unsplash

Who won the latest Nebulas? Here’s an abbreviated list to get you started, but click through for all the details!

SFWA Announces the Winners of the 58th Annual Nebula Awards


Babel, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)


Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)


“If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You”, John Chu (Uncanny 7–8/22)


“Rabbit Test”, Samantha Mills (Uncanny 11–12/22)


Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion, K. Tempest Bradford (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Photo by Joshua Oh on Unsplash

Like many of you, I love libraries. Like, a lot:

Run, Don’t Walk | J.R. Johnson

Passport to Wonders | J.R. Johnson

Keys to the Universe | J.R. Johnson

Inquiring Minds Want to Know | J.R. Johnson

Books Neverending | J.R. Johnson

Keys to the Universe | J.R. Johnson

Lovely Libraries | J.R. Johnson

What Now? Check Out a Ukulele at the Library | J.R. Johnson

I don’t love that some people are trying to control what others can read in libraries. If this is happening in your neighborhood, what can you do?

How to Protect Your Local Library From Book Ban Campaigns – Bloomberg

Library boards, school boards and legislatures are becoming battlegrounds in a push to censor books. Communities are fighting back.

I was also glad to see this policy on Intellectual Freedom And Controversial Material at my childhood library: 

The libraries have a responsibility to serve all segments of the county. Materials useful to some may be objectionable to others.  Selections are based solely on the merits of the work in relation to building the collections and to serving the interests of readers. The libraries attempt to represent all sides of controversial issues. Their function is to provide information, not to advocate specific points of view.

Reading preferences are a purely individual matter; while anyone is free to personally reject books and other materials, this right cannot be exercised to restrict the freedom to others.

Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents, and no cataloged item will be placed on closed shelves, except for the express purpose of protecting it from injury or theft. Items may be placed on temporary reserve for specific class assignment or projects.

Responsibility for what children and young adults read and view rests with their parents’ and/or legal guardians. Selections will not be inhibited by the possibility that controversial materials may come into the possession of children or young adults.

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Photo by Marissa Daeger on Unsplash

Still Smiling

Why is that, you ask? Because yesterday was my book birthday and that makes me happy. Thanks to everyone who has expressed interest in volume 39, preordered, ordered, or requested the book from the local library!

It’s a little bit like a fairytale, so today let’s tag along with my Writers of the Future award, which went on a little trip to see the Hugh Comstock fairytale cottages in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Here’s the award visiting Storybook Cottage (although I digitally removed the barriers between the award and the cottage, because symbolism!).

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Today is the day: Volume 39 of Writers of the Future is live!

Where to buy: Amazon | Apple Books | Audible | B&N | BAM | Bookshop | Google Play | Indigo | Kobo | OverDrive Libraries | Powell’s | Vroman’s

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Here’s the synopsis:

In the world of speculative fiction…

Your favorite authors…

Have selected the best new voices of the year.

24 Award-winning Authors and Illustrators 

3 Bonus Short Stories by Kevin J. Anderson • L. Ron Hubbard • S. M. Stirling 

Art and Writing Tips by Lazarus Chernik • L. Ron Hubbard • Kristine Kathryn Rusch 

Edited by Dean Wesley Smith • Jody Lynn Nye 

16-page color gallery of artwork • Cover art by Tom Wood

Check out the stories Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Nnedi Okorafor, Robert J. Sawyer, Kevin J. Anderson, Jody Lynn Nye and others chose as the best of the best.

Be amazed. Be amused. Be transported … by stories that take you by surprise and take you further and deeper into new worlds and new ideas than you’ve ever gone before….

Twelve captivating tales from the most exciting new voices in science fiction and fantasy accompanied by three from masters of the genre.

A miracle? An omen? Or something else? One day, they arrived in droves—the foxes of the desert, the field, the imagination….—“Kitsune” by Devon Bohm

When a vampire, a dragon and a shape-shifting Chihuahua meet on a beach in Key West, fireworks go off! But that’s just the background. —“Moonlight and Funk” by Marianne Xenos

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., faces one of his funniest and most perplexing cases ever—an enlightened ogre, a salamander with low self-esteem, and a raging fire dragon terrorizing the Unnatural Quarter! —“Fire in the Hole” by Kevin J. Anderson

The Grim Reaper, trapped in an IRS agent’s dying body, must regain his powers before he dies and faces judgment for his original sin. —“Death and the Taxman” by David Hankins

In a metaverse future, a woman who exposes falseness in others must decide what is real to her—the love she lost or the love she may have found. —“Under My Cypresses” by Jason Palmatier

Vic Harden wasn’t lured by glory on a daring mission into the reaches of outer space—he was ordered out there by his editor.—“The Unwilling Hero” by L. Ron Hubbard

Dangerous opportunities present themselves when an alien ship arrives in the solar system seeking repairs. —“White Elephant” by David K. Henrickson

With her spaceship at the wrong end of a pirate’s guns, a former war hero must face down her enemies and demons to save Earth’s last best chance for peace. —“Piracy for Beginners” by J. R. Johnson

Years after the Second Holocaust, the last surviving Jews on earth attempt to rewrite the past. —“A Trickle in History” by Elaine Midcoh

When I said I’d do anything to pay off my debts and get back home to Earth, I didn’t mean survey a derelict spaceship at the edge of the solar system—but here I am. —“The Withering Sky” by Arthur H. Manner

High-powered telescopes bring galactic life to our TVs, and network tuner Hank Enos figures he’s seen everything—until the day an alien boy stares back. —“The Fall of Crodendra M.” by T. J. Knight

Knights, damsels and dragons, curses and fates foretold—the stuff of legends and stories, but unexpectedly perverse.—“Constant Never” by S. M. Stirling

Determined to save his wife, Tumelo takes an unlikely client through South Africa’s ruins to the heart of the Desolation—a journey that will cost or save everything. —“The Children of Desolation” by Spencer Sekulin

When a terrorist smuggles a nuclear weapon into London, a team regresses in time to AD 1093 to assassinate a knight on the battlefield, thereby eliminating the terrorist a millennia before his birth. —“Timelines and Bloodlines” by L. H. Davis

The Grand Exam, a gateway to power for one, likely death for all others—its entrants include ambitious nobles, desperate peasants, and Quiet Gate, an old woman with nothing left to lose. —“The Last History” by Samuel Parr

You will love this collection of the best new voices because, as Locus magazine puts it, “Excellent writing…extremely varied. There’s a lot of hot new talent.”

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One More Day!

Tomorrow is the book birthday for Writers of the Future Volume 39, which includes my story “Piracy for Beginners” and much more. The publishers went all out, with 544 pages plus a full-color gallery for illustrations, and of course electronic and audiobook versions. 

Am I excited? I am. Am I eager for you to meet my fellow authors and illustrators, who are all amazing talents? They are! Will I remind you of these facts again tomorrow? Probably, because I think that anyone with an interest in science fiction and/or fantasy will find something to love in this collection. After reading the book and spending a week with the other new authors, I was impressed and I hope you will be too.


e/BOOK/AUDIO: Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Google Play | Kobo

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Writers of the Future 39 Book Cover with Flaming Dragon

For my mother, and my other mothers, and to all those out there who appreciate flowers, here’s a piece on the history of tulips (one of my mother’s favorite flowers) and their role in art (another of my mom’s favorite things).

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Brief, Blossoming History of Tulips in Art, From a 17th-Century Dutch Flower Craze to Koons’s Controversial Bouquet

There is no other period of art history more closely associated with tulips than the Dutch Golden Age. Marked by economic prosperity, scientific discovery, and flourishing arts and culture, the tulip came to be a hallmark of the Netherland’s successes. There is some disagreement about exactly when and by whom the first tulips were brought to the Dutch Republic, but it is known that they were imported from the Ottoman Empire sometime in the latter half of the 16th century. Already a costly commodity, the demand for specific bulbs of different colors and varieties quickly outpaced the supply of tulips—and thus Tulip Mania, or the Tulip Craze, began. At its height, the price for a rare and prized tulip bulb was on par with a craftsperson’s annual wage.

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Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

E. parma

Today would have been my grandfather’s 113th birthday. I’ve written about him on this day for the past two years, and I thought it would be nice to keep up the tradition. 

My previous birthday posts about Grandpa:

Eleventy-First, with Memories | J.R. Johnson

To Be Fair | J.R. Johnson

My grandparents lived in Chicago for most of my life but when they retired they became snowbirds, the kind that fly south for the winter. Later, they moved down there permanently. My grandfather walked the beaches south of Cape Canaveral and found, among other things, the bleached white skeletons of Echinarachnius parma, otherwise known as sand dollars. 

I saw live sand dollars for the first time on our recent visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They resemble their skeletons only in shape, and even that is unexpectedly flipped upright. Check out the images in the article below.

9 Fascinating Facts About Sand Dollars

The sand dollar—or “sea biscuit,” or “sand cake,” in other parts of the world—is purple and hairy in its prime.

Grandpa used to collect sand dollars and give them to us kids, a tiny piece of a magical, tropical land far to the south.

I still keep one on my bookshelf.

Happy birthday, Grandpa.

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Fun Puzzle

Here’s a puzzle based on one of the illustrations in the forthcoming Writers of the Future Volume 39 (coming out May 16th!). Both the writer and illustrator of this piece are great artists and lovely people. Can’t wait for you to meet them both in Volume 39, but until then, enjoy Death and the Taxman!

Have fun with this story illustration from Writers of the Future Volume 39 depicting the Grim Reaper, trapped in an IRS agent’s dying body, who must regain his powers before he faces judgment for his original sin. Take a good look at the image before you push the re-start button at the lower left side of the page!

Galaxy Press newsletter

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