The Year of the Scorpion


Erin and I have put out our Christmas letter. She wrote the most of it. I supplied further details and editorial comments:

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Christmas, happy new year!

It's been a year at the Bow house - starting with the house itself. We moved on an arctic weekend at the end of February, out of our beloved condo and into our very first house (with lawncare responsibilities and everything! -jb). It's a mid-century raised ranch with a beautiful garden and a separate home office - something James's growing writing businesses badly needed (and much appreciated -jb). This fall we added an office for Erin, wiring and insulating the shed to create a perfect writerly hidey hole.

Vivian has reached double digits: ten years old! She loves Harry Potter, (and Terry Pratchett - I've read her five of his books so far -jb), and all things astronomy: she has two telescopes and can name most of the major objects in the Kuiper belt. At school she leads an inclusion program called "PALS," whose goal it to be sure that all kids have someone to play with at recess. She's just finished her tests to become a junior lifeguard. Her new room has a loft bed and we've taken to calling it her lair - sometimes she goes in there and we don't see her for days.

Nora, 7, is a math whiz who does boggling things like inventing new methods for discovering large "happy" numbers. (It's a technical thing, like prime numbers.) She's also an artist and a passionate animal lover, whose stuffy friends are threatening to take over her new room. Each has its own name and backstory, and woe to the parent who mixes them up. Nora is soft spoken and sweet, and more ingoing than outgoing. You should not mistake her, though: she is going.

James continues to work from home. He is a columnist for one of our local papers, and is sometimes very busy with the non-fiction children's books that pay most of our mortgage (well, not most of the mortgage, but some -jb): he wrote eight new ones this year alone. His passion remains fiction, though, and he's just finishing revisions to a new book that will be out next year from Scholastic Canada: a science fiction tale for young readers called Icarus Down.

Erin has had a very busy year. She still works every other week as a science writer at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, but this year she had to take a sabbatical from May to October, to keep up with her fiction writing career. Her new book, The Scorpion Rules, came out from Simon & Schuster in September, and she did a ten-city tour to support it. It has launched well, making best of the year lists from Kirkus, Barnes & Noble, Powells, The Globe & Mail, Chapters/Indigo, and the CBC, among other places. A sequel will be out next year; she is working to finish the edits now. Erin also spent part of the summer in Mongolia, where she thinks she may have found the idea for the book after next.

The rest of the family didn't quite have the 33-airplanes-in-one-year schedule that Erin dealt with, but we did do a bit of travelling. We were especially glad to find ourselves in San Francisco for PRIDE on the day after the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality. Love wins! We visited Erin's Dad Wendell and his wife Judy in Fresno, went camping among the great sequoias of King's Canyon (James, meanwhile, was given time off to travel to Sacramento - they have streetcars -jb), and body-surfed the Pacific at Pismo beach. James took a transit trip to Philadelphia to check out the city's subway and streetcars (and the Liberty Bell). He came back via the Amtrak train through the Adirondacks just as the fall foliage was kicking in.

We've been grateful for our friends, our time, and our family, especially the kids' grandparents, all of them. It's fun to visit the ones in California, and a blessing to have more in two: James' parents Pat and Eric and Erin's mother and stepdad Rosemarie and Michael all live nearby. We've established traditions and share meals regularly. The grandparents each take a kid on Friday night, giving us an actual date night, our first in eighteen years of marriage. We mostly Netflix and Chill.

We hope this letter finds you all well, in the company of friends and family, this holiday season, looking forward to good things in the coming new year. We look forward to the challenges and opportunities coming in 2016. Thank you all for your love and kindness, and we look forward to sharing more good times.

You can follow us online on Twitter as @erinbowbooks and @jamesbow, on Facebook, and on James' blog at /blog.shtml

With every good wish for the new year, James, Erin, Vivian and Nora Bow

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