I am very happy to announce that my story “Mom in the Moon” has sold to Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Analog has long been the genre magazine I most wish to be published in, so this milestone is a dream come true.

*Spoilers below *

In the unlikely event no one has seen it yet.

I was disappointed to miss Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theater, and hoping that would be where the disappointment would end. I love the original trilogy. A New Hope was on first viewing a transcendent experience. It marked the beginning of a new era in visual storytelling. From the scrolling words opening to the innovative FX to the characters and their struggles, joys, and triumphs, it was an event as no other movie had been before. Many instant fans didn’t even know it actually had a five word title. It was simply Star Wars, the most exciting movie of its generation, perhaps of all time.

It held up so well that The Force Awakens was able to slide into the mythology, with near perfect segue. The key to this was the inclusion of so many familiar faces, most importantly with their familiar actors, right down to the droids. In particular, the dynamic between Han and Leia made the transition intact. Not many movies can give the veteran viewer a jolt of pure joy, but I felt just that multiple times while watching The Force Awakens. First sight of the Falcon, Han, Chewie, R2-D2 and C3PO…and Leia, then Leia and Han together again at last. Star Wars fans dreamed of that moment, some for decades. It did not disappoint. It thrilled the way movies need to do a lot more often.

The new additions brought their own separate thrills. Tough and remarkable Rey, flawed hero Finn, dashing pilot Poe, and of course adorable droid BB8, all bring out memories of what has come before, even as they blaze new trails that belong to them. Kylo Ren is an admirable foe, bristling with his bitter darkside darkness, yet carrying the vulnerability of a struggling child.

Action is actionier due to 21st century FX, but the core of Star Wars tradition runs through The Force Awakens right down to Han’s shocking apparent death. Apparent? Of course. I have little doubt and lots of hope that the tradition of dead is not as dead as we think will continue throughout the new incarnation of the beloved series.

There’s an unspoken extra bit to the title…Star Wars: The Force Awakens A Newer Hope. This is the kind of storytelling that instantly becomes the stuff of legend, even as it continues the legend at its foundation. It brings a ray of light into the endless parade of franchise reboots and movie remakes. Most importantly of all, it is the Star Wars we love moved into the next millennium. How fitting.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

This year the Nicholl early entry deadline loomed on my personal horizon, daring me to hit it in time. With so much going on in my nonwriting life, as my mom’s health started to decline at a rapid rate, I was afraid I’d miss all the deadlines entirely.

So of course I took advantage of an unusually quiet night to make sure I got my requisite three entries in and confirmed well before the early deadline. That turned out to be just ahead of the point where we reached real crises mode, so it worked out the best it could have.

I’m still happy to be a part of the Nicholl experience. The waiting. The fun of reading the anonymous reader comments on their Facebook, imagining too many of them could be about my scripts. The waiting. The breathless anticipation of announcement season. Um, did I mention the waiting?

There’s also the wishing I’d had a new script ready to go in time. Maybe next year.

I think I have too much on my mind this time to be as devoted a waiter, wisher, and maybe–er as I usually am. That could be a good thing, because all of those other things come with an extra dose of stress I don’t need right now. Anticipation a little less coated in stress is a welcome bright spot.

Three dramas.

Three virtually hole punched dreams, bound with two shiny imaginary brads, all PDFed and waiting for their closeup…scrutiny.

This fact filled article about the impressive plan to explore Alpha Centauri that’s been hitting all the major news outlets is pretty darned intriguing. It involves tiny probes about the size of iPhones that could travel to our nearest space neighbor, look around, and send home information. It would take a long time, of course, but advances in miniaturization in particular make what seemed impossible not so long ago into a technically feasible ambition. The fact that Stephen Hawking is involved makes the whole prospect even more exciting. It’s the stuff of dreams, and science fiction, and a scientific reality we’re all privileged to witness unfolding its wings. Quite literally.

Some visits with my mom in the nursing home are better than others. There are times when she’s a bit snarky, times when she feels bad, and times when she’s sound asleep and I don’t even get to talk to her. Then there are times like tonight.

As I walked in I saw that she was watching The MTV Movie Awards. She was doing well and we chatted about all kinds of things. I noticed that her gaze kept turning to the TV, even as my head swiveled periodically to see who was onscreen. So of course our conversation was interspersed with exclamations about celebrities, hairstyles, and ceremonywear. Even that most dire of antagonists named Alzheimer’s cannot make her forget her love of Hollywood.

She always loved to read about
movie stars. Back in her day the royalty of Old Hollywood reigned on the pages of myriad movie magazines and the ever evolving technology of television. I distinctly remember the moment when I pulled open the doors of a large cabinet under our dining room buffet as a child, and discovered the aging paper of her old magazines that were a record of her love for those old movies. Her sister, my Aunt Pearl from previous posts, had an old photo album with crumbly cutouts cannibalized from her own collection pasted in for posterity. The apparent genetic pull goes even further back and all the way to Hollywood itself. My grandfather’s niece moved “out there” and became an obscure part of Hollywood history as a stand in during Old Hollywood’s hey day. So my childhood was filled with references to movie stars, movies, and even family lore from The Golden Age of Hollywood.

I fell under the spell of Old Hollywood as well, from watching a TV channel that showed the old black and white gems late at night and on weekends. Such classics as It Happened One Night, Arsenic and Old Lace, Mrs. Minever, The Thin Man Series, Being Up Baby,  Manhattan Melodrama…and more than I can record or recall. They all went into the giant mental vat that became the origin of my urge to write screenplays, though it was a long time before I realized it. Little did I know as the kid who loves old movies that one day I’d write screenplays that do well in some cool screenwriting competitions.

I didn’t really put it all together until tonight, as my mom and I found a moment when we could both be together in the same time and place, through that fantasy world called Hollywood. It had never really occurred to me how deeply my life has always been connected to movie magic and people who love it, even lived it. It makes me feel as if every screenplay I write is part of my heritage. A heritage and history I’ve become a real part of, in ways so unexpected that tonight, suddenly, I feel awed by just how deeply my love of Hollywood runs through my veins.

It’s easy to overlook what’s right underfoot, until all the beautiful tiny wildflowers start to carpet a spring yard. Here’s what I’ve been  noticing.

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I just love these. They look a bit like miniature pansies.

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This bright, pretty yellow one is great inspiration, since it appears to have managed to push its way up to the light right through the asphalt of the driveway and thrive.

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Here we have my favorite, of course. I don’t see this kind every year, but its almost neon purple always makes me smile when it does pop up.

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At first glance this little beauty is pure white. A really closer look reveals delicate purple striping.

The grass has already been mowed once this year. Before that there was a microscopic jungle of these lovely “weeds”, and more. These are the determined ones that won’t let a minor annoyance like a lawn mower keep them at bay for long.

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