2014 in Review

January: The Year Begins in the San Juans

Photo of a sunset over water.

We’ve been going up to the San Juans the past few years for New Years, though this year we’re skipping that. Here’s the early evening view from the front porch out over the water.

2014 was a great year and I want to thank the wonderful friends and family that helped make it so.

I started the year out in the San Juan Islands with Wayne, Mom, and Mark. We watched Sherlock (Mom hadn’t learned about Benedict Cumberbatch yet), read, and did a lot of walking and bird watching, as well as throwing a ball for the dog living on the front porch of the rental place. There was a great fireplace, and plenty of room to sit around and talk or play games. Lunch at the Love Dog Cafe was a worthy meal, although I still miss Bilbo’s.

That was the same month my story, “All the Pretty Little Mermaids,” which appeared in the March issue of Asimov’s SF, made it onto the shelf, so I was able to spot it in the wild. At the same time, “Summer Night in Durham” came out in the anthology Stamps, Vamps, and Tramps, edited by Shannon Robinson.

February: Adventures in Lincoln City

Beach sunset in Lincoln City, Oregon

Sandra and I stayed in the Ester Lee motel while in Lincoln City. It was a short walk down to the beach and a wealth of fabulous sunrises and sunsets.

In February I got to hear Jeff VanderMeer read from the first volume of his Southern Reach series. It was my first visit to Elliott Bay Books, assuredly not my last. My story, “Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable,” appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine.

That same month Sandra Odell and I drove down to Lincoln City, Oregon to participate in Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith’s anthology workshop. We’d each written six stories in advance for the workshop. Mine were: The Raiders (published in Fiction River: Past Crimes); Call and Answer, Plant and Harvest (forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies); Circus in the Bloodwarm Rain (appeared in Fantasy Scroll Magazine); Snakes on a Train (currently in circulation); Buying Trouble (in circulation) and “Marvelous Contrivances of the Heart” (forthcoming in Recycled Pulp). It was a good time, and I made some new friends, which was awesome, and got some good writing and learning done while I was there.

March: The Scheme Begins

Caren Gussoff and Cat Rambo  at Emerald City ComicCon., Seattle, 2014.

Caren Gussoff and I, working the Clarion West booth at Emerald City ComicCon.

It was around the same time that I declared I’d be running for the position of Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Yikes! I went to Emerald City Comicon at the end of March and had a swell time helping out at the Clarion West booth as well as participating in a panel with Kevin J. Anderson and David Farland. It was the first time I’d ever been to a ComicCon. The scale and discipline with which it was organized was impressive and a little daunting, but the day that I spent there was a lot of fun and I hope to repeat the experience in 2015.

But more important than any of this, we started planning the grand road trip that would occupy the second half of the year around this point. Before anything else? We had to get the condo in which we’ve lived for twelve years ready to sell, work that included replacing two sets of shower doors, putting new linoleum down in a bathroom and the kitchen, putting Pergo down in the bedroom, replacing the blinds and patio shade, swapping out a lot of hardware and light fixtures, and putting tile around the wood burning stove’s platform. In the course of all of that, I’d learn to love my Dremel with the fury of a thousand suns. It can do anything, an experience I’d draw on much later in the year when writing “Red in Tooth and Cog.”

April: A Storm of Strawberries

Photograph of ripe strawberries still on the plant.

In 2013, I put these plants in, then spent a summer pinching back runners in order to encourage them to work on root systems instead. That paid off in spades — and the fresh strawberries were amazing.

Spring in Redmond is always full of rainbows, and we saw a double one this year. The strawberry bed I’d planted for Mom last year went crazy, and we had strawberries galore. Eating one straight from the plant, still a little warm from the sun — delicious!

Mid April, I attended Norwescon, a longtime favorite local convention held down near the Seatac airport. A high point was hearing BFF Caren Gussoff read from her novel, The Birthday Problem, whose release was only a few months off as well as hearing the inimitable Randy Henderson read from upcoming Finn Fancy Necromancy. Around the same time, “Can You Hear the Moon?” appeared in Superficial Flesh, edited by Lauren Dixon.

I began carrying unshelled peanuts in my pockets to woo local crows and had some success making friends. Meanwhile we moved to another apartment here in Villa Marina while continuing to work on the apartment, aided by friend Dallas Taylor, who is a man of many talents.

May is Uneventful, But June Less So

In May, Wayne and I went off to the Nebulas in San Jose, where we got to see some awesome people win in what was a terrific ballot. I attended the SFWA board meeting there, having been elected VP (not terribly impressive, since I ran uncontested) and participated on a writing panel with Eileen Gunn.

Picture of Cat Rambo and Dr. Cat.

Here I am with Dr. Cat, who I know from high school days. You may know him from Furcadia (www.furcadia.com).

In June, my story “English Muffin, Devotion on the Side” appeared in Daily Science Fiction. Early in the month, we left off remodeling temporarily, dropped our cat Taco off with Keffy Kehrli, who swore to immortalize her on the Internet and set off to California to take our other cat Raven to stay with An Owomoyela.

We drove down in two days, finding out in the process that Raven was a remarkably relaxed traveler who was perfectly happy to sit in the back window and watch the road. We stayed for a few days in the San Francisco area, seeing lots of friends, including getting a chance to see Devin Crain, Rachel Doe and Laura Wren’s new digs, driving in Bethanye and Stephen Blount’s Tesla, and grabbing a meal with a friend from high school days, Dr. Cat.

In San Francisco, we stayed in a great place near the water, and had a fabulous view of the Bay Bridge’s scintillating lights. The hotel had a series of terraces up on the roof, and we took up glasses of wine one night and enjoyed the sunset, with the whole place to ourselves. I I made Wayne visit the Winchester Mystery House with me and it was just as fabulous as I’d remembered. We did the behind-the-scenes tour, and got to see a lot of the engineering innovations Sarah Winchester had come up with.

Some San Francisco moments:

Art installation on Fisherman’s Wharf, Chris Bell’s “Swarm”:

Sea lions on Fisherman’s Wharf:

Wild parrots in the park:

Photo of Cat and Wayne Rambo.

In a decade and a half here in Seattle, I’d always meant to go up in the Space Needle but never had. So Wayne, Mark and I ventured in one Sunday, not realizing it was Pride Day, which made it even more awesome.

Coming back up, we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping to see sea lion caves and pet baby tigers, as well as staying one night with the mayor of Toledo, Oregon, and his charming wife.

July and Farewells

Then back to the grind of re-modeling as we worked away towards our July 15 deadline. We did take a break every once in a while, including a trip into Seattle on Pride Day for brunch at the Space Needle, and well as celebrating “Rappacinni’s Crow” appearing in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and “A Brooch of Bone, A Hint of Tooth” in By Faerie Light 2, edited by Scott Gable. I read at the book launch at the Wayward Coffeehouse, one of my favorite Seattle venues. Amidst all this, I set up a Patreon campaign in order to kick myself in the butt to keep writing while on the road. I’m still deciding whether to continue that into 2015, but I feel as though it’s been generally successful.

Photo of Cat, Millie, and Wayne Rambo.

We tried to get pictures with the people we visited and here early on in the trip, we were pretty good about it. Here we are with Grandma Rambo and her amazing smile.

We discarded most of our worldly possessions and packed the rest up into two storage pods, making our deadline just in time. We spent last night in Redmond at my mother’s house, and then hit the road towards Idaho. There we visited Wayne’s non-crazy aunt Nona (hi Nona), his grandmother, and his mother in Post Falls. We spent a few days with Nona and did a lot of reminiscing as well as playing with her cat, Abby(normal). We watched the moonflowers in her garden bloom one night, which was amazing and drank coffee with Carl and Lyndall.

Finally saying goodbye to Post Falls, we headed down through Spokane, and then through rolling hills, bright with green grass and wildflowers, towards the southern edge of the state and Lewiston, Idaho to visit Wayne’s cousins Pete, Petey, and Patty and their dogs and drone.

Petey’s drone accompanied us on a walk through the park:

From Lewiston we continued southward, heading towards Yellowstone, where we were amazed by both the hot springs and the vistas.

Photo of a hot spring.

Yellowstone was full of beautiful and sometimes eerily wonderful sights.

After crossing through the park, we started towards Denver, we were graciously hosted by David Boop, his girlfriend Rose, and his son Dylan. For David’s birthday, we made a mass trip out for pizza with a terrific group of people. We also got a chance to visit Buffalo Bill’s grave there, atop Lookout Mountain, where he asked to be buried.

After Denver, we hit Western Kansas, stopping at various roadside attractions along the way, like Prairie Dog Town, which also yielded the first story of the trip, titled after the attraction. It went out to Patreon followers and will be self-published next year. There we visited my cousins Jeff and Faith in Garden City, where we stayed in the same hotel that Truman Capote stayed in while researching In Cold Blood.

Swinging through Mullinville, we stopped to admire some of the sculptures of family friend and M.T. Liggett, which line a substantial stretch of highway near Mullinville. If you go through Kansas, this is well worth a stop. Plan on spending some time walking to look at the sculptures, many of which are political/satirical in nature.

A couple of M.T.’s wind-powered sculptures:

Driving straight across the state, we got to Lawrence and visited more cousins, Alex and Matt as well as Jeremy Tolbert, who came out for an over-the-top and thoroughly delicious breakfast. From there we swung up to St. Louis and another breakfast, this time with Ann Leckie.

Cahokia dragon

This is the Cahokia dragon. At the nearby fuel store, you can buy tokens to use to make it breath flame.

In leaving St. Louis, we went to the Cahokia Mounds and walked around there, then headed to Bloomington, Indiana. There, we saw some of my friends from college, including Nels Boerner, who now owns a restaurant there and poet-librarian Anne Haines.

From Bloomington, up and up till we hit South Bend, Indiana, where we spent a few days with my brother Lowell and his wife Sherri. While there, I got a chance to visit with my other brother, his partner, and nephew Mason as well as spend some time at the Griffon Bookstore, where I worked at all through high school and college.

Then to Pennsylvania, where we spent time with godkids, and a trip up to Knoebbel’s amusement park. We managed to get in some sidevisits to friends like Michael Swanwick and Marianne Wilson and my SFWA Cookbook co-editor Fran Wilde.

Finally we headed to New York for a few days, where I saw another friend from high school, Arturo Garcia-Costas, and one from my days with RSA, Yehuda Hyman. Alex Shvartsman took us out for a highly memorable meal, Bob Howe went for a drinking session full of scurrilous and highly entertaining chatter, and Kris Dikeman showed us her favorite mermaid.

August and September: Costa Rica, Baby

By now we’d hit August, and my story “Eggs of Stone” appeared in Three-lobed Burning Eye. Stories continued to flourish for the Patreon campaign as well.

Photo of a man with a drink in Jaco.

Wayne relaxing at Taco Bar, a great place for a cheap, good breakfast or lunch in Jaco Beach.

Then to Costa Rica! We spent a fabulous month there in Jaco Beach (story “Jaco Tours” was inspired here), making some side trips to places like Manuel Antonio Park, Marina Ballenas Park, Neo Fauna Wildlife refuge, and a sloth sanctuary on the eastern coast of the country. Costa Rica was full of marvelous things: drinking coconut juice from a coconut that had just been sliced open while watching a bankful of iguanas doing their iguana-thang by the river; walking along the beach finding pieces of white coral; seeing humpback whales from our balcony; baby sloths, which make my inner child go EEEEEEE uncontrollably every time I think of them; eating half-price sushi at Tsunami Sushi while watching the nightlife start to come alive in the street down below; a beach almond tree full of scarlet macaws chattering away while shelling nuts and throwing them down below; eating grilled mahi tacos with a sprinkling of mint at the Taco Bar in sizzling heat while watching an endless parade of surfers headed towards the beach; lizards and crabs and hermit crabs so tiny you could barely see them scuttling along; climbing over lava ridges amid the spray of crashing waves and seeing the distant blue flutter of a butterfly in the jungle.

While we were there, Daily Science Fiction published “The Moon and the Mouse,” which I’d written earlier in the year during a flash fiction class.

Some moments from Costa Rica:

Rainy season. We ducked into a bar into order to wait for this to die down.

Baby sloths.

More baby sloths.

photo of a cat sleeping on its back

The Hemingway house was hosting 56 cats at the time we visited. This one was thoroughly asleep in the sun.

Sadly, time to come back to the United States mid September, but we were lucky enough to get an opportunity at a week-long Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory. We hopped on that in Miami and visited Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas, including one halcyon afternoon where we swam in turquoise water with stingrays flitting over the white white sand all around us.

Wayne liked Puerto Rico the best, but for me the stingrays were the most amazing moment. They let us hold them, and the underside of a stingray is softer than soft. A swarm of them appeared, knowing that they’d be fed, and each of us took a turn giving them fish and feeling them pull it into their mouth. Some people went and snorkeled, but Wayne and I stayed where we were, floating chest-high in the warm salt water, watching the rays swim back and forth.

Here’s a moment from the cruise, from Wayne’s participation in a game show one night. For the rest of the trip, people kept recognizing him as “the pretzel guy”.

Back in Miami, we rented a convertible and spent a day driving down Highway 1, swooping along through blue sky, blue water as we went over the multitude of long bridges between the keys, all the way down to Ernest Hemingway’s house on the farthest key, Key West. I soaked in the Hemingway aura a bit and we petted some of the 56 polydactyl cats living there. Coming back up, we stopped for conch fritters and key lime pie at a roadside stand full of gaudy painted wooden furniture and shark sculptures. The bit of fossilized coral I picked up there is sitting on a shelf near me as I write this, summoning up memories of hot sunlight and vast stretches of road over vaster expanses of water, as beautiful as could be. We returned to Miami under a flamboyant sunset and chilled for a couple of days downtown in more sunny, beautiful weather before heading back into the skies.

Collage of shadows on pavement.

While waiting for a friend to arrive, I amused myself taking pictures of the passing shadows in Madison Square Park.

It was a short trip to NYC, where we stayed with Kris Dikeman (and her cat Lucy), and went to the annual SFWA reception there. For me a highlight was the serving of two recipes from the upcoming SFWA Cookbook: momos from Jay Lake and the Honey Badger cocktail created by Andrew Penn Romine.

I spent a day that was both productive and enjoyable conferring with fellow board members and SFWA staff and we got a chance to spend time with friends, including a lovely fall afternoon in Madison Square Park with a friend from Armageddon, Davey, and a terrific reading by Laird Barron, Laura Anne Gilman and Nick Parisi down in Brooklyn, followed by a wide spread of Polish food nearby with Kris. A final dinner with Arturo let me taste Indian food again after several months, a welcome return to some familiar flavors.

October and November: Always Coming Home

Cat Rambo and Connie Willis

When the first person I saw at MileHiCon was Connie Willis, I knew it’d be a delightful convention.

More godkid time in Pennsylvania included a visit to a corn maze, and then to Durham, North Carolina with our Armageddon friend Mark, and time with some of his family. My Clarion West classmate Ada Milenkovic Brown and her husband Frank both came out for breakfast.

From there, we finally started home, cutting diagonally across the country in a leg that included fried okra in Mississippi, Cathedral Caverns in Alabama, and a glimpse of Graceland before we were back in Denver, where I swung through MileHighCon in order to see some favorite peeps, including Daniel Abraham, James Sutter, Michael Swanwick, and Connie Willis. From there we went to Aspen for a couple of days before launching anew in a leg that included the Craters of the Moon in Idaho, more Nona-time, and then, finally, Redmond, anew. We’d hoped that our condo would have sold in our absence, but it hadn’t. but we began moving back in there.

Wayne and Scott Andrews comparing beards

While at World Fantasy Convention, Wayne compared beards with Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

That process was briefly interrupted by a trip to Washington D.C. in early November for World Fantasy Convention, where I had another terrific SFWA board member as well as a chance to talk to a BAJILLION people, too many to safely try to list without offending someone, so I will only call out highlights: chats with Scott Andrews, Melanie Meadors, Kat Richardson; a terrific Ethiopian time that included Steven Gould and new friend Jeremy Zerfoss; a great panel on R.A. Lafferty led by Andy Duncan, where two of Lafferty’s neighbors showing up to share stories of him; pizza with SFWA forum moderators Jim Johnson and Django Wexler; lunch with Andy and Sydney Duncan; a terrific SFWA meeting; lots of time with always-entertaining Bud Sparhawk; and breakfast with Rebekah Brockway.

November stories came out as well: “Hoofsore and Weary” in Shattered Shields from Baen Books, edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt and “Elections at Villa Encantada” in Unidentified Flying Objects 3.

But most importantly, I got to see Women Destroy Fantasy finally appear, with copies of it waiting for me among the slew of mail. The editorial I wrote for Women Destroy Fantasy took me a long time and was, I think, among the most significant nonfiction pieces I wrote during 2014.

What four months of mail looks like when you retrieve it. Plenty of  pleasing contributor's copies, including Women Destroy Fantasy1

What four months of mail looks like when you retrieve it. Plenty of pleasing contributor’s copies, including Women Destroy Fantasy1

From DC, back to Seattle, where I heard friends Django Wexler and Curtis Chen read as part of the SFWA reading series the following day. Towards the end of the month, I cooked us all Thanksgiving dinner, and then came down with a terrible cold. Wayne bravely ventured forth to reclaim Raven and by the beginning of the second week, we were all re-united, Wayne, Raven, Taco, and I, at which point I went off for a week-long writing retreat in Port Townsend, in which I finished up “Red in Tooth and Cog,” “Carpe Glitter,” and several flash pieces. I had two last publications, referring back to that Lincoln City workshop early in the year: “Circus in the Bloodwarm Rain” in Fantasy Scroll Magazine and “Raiders” produced at the beginning of the year, appeared in Fiction River: Past Crimes, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. I got a chance to dip back into teaching with a plotting workshop and a flash fiction workshop; in the latter I wrote a piece, “You Have Always Lived in the Castle,” and sent it off that night for a 48-hour sale to Daily Science Fiction.

December: Winding Things Down

We’ve finished the year with the usual Chinese dinner on Christmas eve, Christmas morning cinnamon rolls and unwrapping gifts, and then a feast of ham, turkey, and sundry wonders that left Mom, Wayne, visitors Audrey, Beth, and Emma, all groaning and ready to go supine. Wayne gave me programmable Christmas lights for Christmas. They’re set up in the study now, flashing blue green purple teal lavender. I’ve just finished up the edits for what will be the first publication of 2015: a nonfiction essay for Clarkesworld Magazine, entitled #PurpleSF, kicking off what I suspect will be a major part of 2015, the ongoing discussion about feminism/diversity in F&SF.

Photograph of a double rainbow.

Rainy Redmond weather may make for moss and gloom, but also plenty of rainbows. Here’s to many more.

So here’s to 2014, which had its up and downs, and to 2015, which will no doubt have more of the same.

Some friends were lost this year: Eugie Foster, Graham Joyce and Jay Lake, among others. I wrote a lot of stories and sold/published many of them. I started publishing individual stories on Amazon and Smashwords and look forward to finishing up getting that backlog online as well as putting out a flash compendium and an updated version of Creating an Online Presence. I’m working on a post-apocalyptic YA based on a story I wrote in January, “Circus in the Bloodwarm Rain,” which I am enjoying. I have plenty on my plate with SFWA, and look forward to continuing to work with it in the coming year as well. I’m anticipating some conventions highly: I’m doing ICFA in March, Norwescon in April, the Nebulas in June, GenCon and Worldcon in August — all of those for sure, with some other possibilities lurking in the wings.

Here’s to new and old friends, new experiences and sights, and above all, new words, new stories, new conversations. Here’s to coming kindnesses and to the moments of delight the Universe will present to each of us, individually, at times throughout the year, each moment crafted for you and you alone by this marvelous world you inhabit: the sky from a particular angle in which the clouds are swallowing the moon, a double rainbow, an idea you’ve never thought of before, the taste of oranges or chocolate, your child’s kiss on your cheek, your friend’s embrace, your lover’s hand on your skin. Here’s to candid conversations and honest communication, to learning together and alone, to being vulnerable to change, to being willing to create, to love, to live.

My good wishes for you all.


(For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you can find many more of the trip pictures there. You can also find Keffy Kehrli’s photos of Taco while he hosted her here.)

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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