Portland is full of windows. When I walk to work, I walk past a software company that occupies the bottom floor of our building. Their outer walls are long, uninterrupted windows. Inside, people seem happy to work, exposed, like little ants in a farm. Their office has the trappings of a 'fun' place to work, with bicycles dangling from the ceiling, and a shot-return basketball arcade game, and big wall transfers of colorful trees.

A few blocks away is a workout facility that seems to be built upon balletic principles. Their large street-facing window is lined with women in workout gear, poised at a barre, doing whatever people do at barres.

There's a design studio with a cracked window.

There are apartment buildings whose residents generally can't afford curtains or blinds, and whose lives are on well-lit display in the evenings when I leave the office.

There's the building directly next door to my workplace, which boasts a single resident whose apartment is at eye-level with our founder's desk. This resident either does not understand the workings of bright interiors when paired with dark exteriors, or perhaps understands these principles well enough. If you were to look -- and you can't really help but look -- you'd find that this resident is prone to work at his desk, naked or very close to it, and quite oblivious to his exposure. (I think.)

The streetcar rolls through the city, and everybody inside is staring at everybody outside. On busy days, everybody outside stares enviously back.

I'm in the home stretch of my current novel, The Settlers, and one of the final stories to be written centers on a window. Many of the stories in the book feature glass and the terrific views you might expect when you live on a space station, but this story is the only one in which the window plays a prominent role. When a window is all you have, what does it come to mean to you? What does it do to you when it closes, and you aren't able to reopen it?

This week I've been giving away e-books. Soma and Onyx, both short stories from The Settlers, have been doing pretty well. Several hundred readers have downloaded them. These stories are themselves windows into the book that I'm nearly finished writing. I can't wait to get it out there, to share the rest.