conventions, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 6/8/20

Out the window: Thick gray and white massed clouds, misting rain, humidity, and yuck. Better than Saturday night’s tornado warning, at least!

sad face
After the Nebulas were over, Sad Writer is facing massive edits and structural work

On the desktop: a scattering of notes from the SFWA Nebula Awards Conference (which was held entirely online, and was simply amazing!), a water bill that I needed help decoding (I love it when the numbers simply don’t add up and you can’t even figure out how much to pay, don’t you?!?), various scene cards in states of revision, the residue both tears of rage and tears of frustration, which leave entirely different marks, trust me.

Today’s Work-in-Progess:  Breathing. Thinking hard thoughts. My novel’s early chapters are broken. They need revising, badly, and that may entail re-envisioning the entire first half of the novel. Ugh ugh ugh. I took a great risk going with the protagonist I chose, knowing it would be far too easy for this to fail, and it did. Now I need to go back to the drawing board to make it right. Wish me luck.

And Another Dozen Things: This year is a dumpster fire. It shouldn’t need saying, and yet it does: Black Lives Matter. Racial inequity and inequality are unjust and inhumane. COVID-19 is still a thing, so please please please stay safe, protect your health and the health of those around you as much as possible. Hurricane season is upon us, so please prepare and take precautions to stay safe, especially in light of the first two items above. Look out for your friends and neighbors. Be kind. Be generous. Breathe. Be.

And finally, if you missed out on the Nebula Awards Conference and wish you hadn’t, it’s not too late. You can still get a membership! All the panels were recorded, and the accompanying Slack is still live and active. Re-watch parties! Write-in dates! Camaraderie! Social networking! Also, through June, every 2020 Nebula Conference membership purchased “creates a seat for a Black writer. If you are a Black Writer, please email for instructions on how to register.”  Where is all this wonderfulness to be found? Right here!

conventions, WorldCon

Returned from Dublin WorldCon 77; a report

My WorldCon Badge, with my joyous “First Worldcon” ribbon.

TL;DR — My first ever WorldCon was so great!

A slightly longer version:
It was just what I needed, when I needed it. Saw lots of people, met some for the first time, played Werewolf and talked shop and watched the Hugo Awards ceremony and thoroughly enjoyed being in Dublin, Ireland. 12/10 Will do again.

The full version:
OMG. melts in a puddle of goo  You guys! It was sooooo awesome. My first WorldCon just rocked it! I even got to be a werewolf for the first time while playing Werewolf, and we destroyed that village! Ha!

Even with the bad stuff, some of which I’m sure you’ve heard if you’ve read anyone else’s WorldCon accounts–the incredibly long and frustrating lines for panels and for kaffeeklatsch sign-ups, the distance between the main convention site and the art/science/costuming site, the overloaded escalators, etc–I had a great time! In addition to meeting up with many friends and acquaintances, I met new people and made new friends! And again, I have to just shout with joy over the fine people over at Codex. Most of these new friends are Codexian that I’d only ever interacted with online. Now, thanks to Dublin WorldCon, I’m thrilled to consider them ReaLife™ friends.

One of the things I was worried about was that my hotel, due to my not registering until rather late, was some distance away from the convention center. Still walkable, but not just down the block. I thought this would limit my interactions during the day, maybe limit my participation in the evenings. Nothing like that happened. If anything, I relished my hotel’s distance, and thoroughly enjoyed my quiet walk to and from the convention as a way to destress and decompress. Just what my introvert self needed to compensate for the go-Go-GO! of the convention itself. And it got me out of “convention mode” and into “admire this great city” mode. Honestly, Dublin made me think “I could live here” time and again. I’d love to go back just to sightsee.

Because of the crowding, the queueing, and the waits, I didn’t attend many panels, but those I did attend really impressed me. And better, the panels–and the con and the entire atmosphere of WorldCon–filled me with joy, and rekindled my enthusiasm for writing, and the writing world that I’m part of today. It reminded me why I write, and lit the fire within me to finish my novel; it showed me that there is a market for such odd things, and that I shouldn’t despair that my novel is just too different.

WorldCon made me feel bold again. And strong, and confident. And all of that is going to help me going forward from here.

conventions, Personal Life, the dog, Writing

On Brain Weasels and Doubt Roaches and Writing “The End”

Time really does fly, doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday I was wondering how it could possibly be 2019 already, and now the year is on the downswing, the way out, already half over. It’ll be July in a few short days! How?!?!?

We’ll be having our first guests in our new home soon–family members stopping in on the way to Miami and a cruise–which will be wonderful. And shortly after that, I’ll be heading to Dublin, Ireland, for my very first WorldCon! I’m very excited–not only for the convention, but also to see so many online friends  and acquaintances in person, and some dear friends in person, too! Of course, it’ll be great to see the city of Dublin, where I’ve never been. Especially since it means exchanging Orlando’s August weather for Dublin’s August weather; I’ve never been so excited to wear full-length jeans before!

In writing news, I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel, and I’m slowing down. Partly in fear (oh don’t mess it up now!), partly in anticipation (oh this is so exciting! the climactic scenes are tense and tight, a joy I don’t want to rush!), and partly because finishing means I need to start editing the mess into something more resembling a novel, and–yep, you guessed it–I’m just stalling. At least I know this, and am forcing myself to have it finished before next week is out.

It was supposed to be finished by the end of this week…but here it is Friday and I’m not done. Dasher had a really horrible early part of the week, with clusters of seizures over the weekend, and another episode on Monday–this time a focal seizure, where the only symptom is a facial tic. Poor Dasher’s nose and eyes twitched, rather violently at times, for a long, long while. I held him and soothed him and kept him in a darkened room, then stayed near in case it was just the first in another cluster of seizures. Fortunately, it was a stand-alone. This time.

That said, lack of sleep (when he’s having clusters like this, if I hear even a tiny sound at night, I’m suddenly wide awake, expecting it to be another seizure) took its toll, and for a couple days I just couldn’t write a word. I’d stare at the computer, feeling dull, and squint my eyes at the bright dazzle of the screen. Ugh. Not a good way to write the climax of the novel you’ve spent a year on!

So now I’m feeling it again–awake, aware, and eager to write. Mostly. But the longer it takes to type “The End,” the more the Brain Weasels feed me a diet of Doubt.

Coincidently, I’ve been reading the perfect book to combat all this nonsense in my brain. It’s “The Writer’s Book of Doubt,” by Aidan Doyle. A writer himself, editor Aidan Doyle has gathered essays from other writers, and written many himself, on the various ways we manage to Doubt–ourselves, our abilities, even our desire or need to write–and combined them into this book, illustrated with fun line drawings that perfectly capture each essay’s meaning.

Not every essay rang with a pure clarion call for me, but enough certainly have that I’ve found it well worth my time to keep reading! I’ve taken some of the advice and created, for example, my very own Awesomeness Dossier. Even making that made me feel better! Whether your doubt nibbles or cripples, I’d suggest giving this book a look.

And with that, I need to get back. “The End” won’t type itself. And even after that, there’s a whole mess of editing to start.


conventions, goals, publication, Writing

Another First!

This is pretty exciting: my first Lois Tilton/Locus review! It’s for Putting Down Roots, my story in LCRW #33–the print version of which is now available. I’m relieved to say she certainly didn’t dislike my story, and so I’ve come out pretty much unscathed (whew! Although getting a bad review from Lois is, I think, a rite of passage, it’s one I’m willing to forgo awhile). Also, the final story in this month’s edition,The March Wind by Eric Gregory, gets a “recommended,” which is pure awesomeness.

Due to my travels, this “news” is terribly late, but…if you were at Readercon, you may have stumbled upon a group reading by the LCRW #33 guest editor and selected attending authors. I heard it was well-received, and I applaud Michael J. DeLuca for organizing this (and I wish I could have attended).

conventions, publication

A Post of Super-Awesome Goodness!

OK, as you try not to choke on that title (either from laughing at how not-me it is, or from gagging at the thought that someone may actually believe that stuff), realize there is a kernel of truth. I have good news!

To wit, the Table of Contents for the Sidekicks! anthology is now available. I had to take time out from moving to post about this for a couple reasons. First of all, discovering that I know some of the other authors (either personally or by their work) is a lovely surprise. I think I’m in very good company in this anthology, and am very pleased to be associated with my fellow authors. Secondly, well, just look at those titles! Now I really want to read this anthology and discover all the darkness and loveliness within! The release is still slated for Millenicon, so if you’re there, stop by the Alliteration Ink table in the dealers’ room and tell them Mary sent you (realize this will likely get you a blank stare, or a punch in the nose–unless you purchase the antho, in which case you can say whatever you like and they’ll smile!). There is some chatter right now about readings at various cons where the publisher/editor/authors will be available, but (sigh) since I’m moving I’ll be unlikely to be able to participate. I’ll be there in spirit, I guess, if not in fact.

Over the weekend, hubby and I tried to squeeze in all the good things we could before we leave. Part of that was going to the toboggan run in the Metro Park. While we waited in line, it began snowing, which was awesome when we went down the run with snow stinging in my face! It meant I couldn’t see a darn thing (being in the front), and that the ‘brakes’ didn’t brake as well, so we cruised yards past the stopping point. Wheeee!

On the way there, we saw numerous deer, including one buck still carrying a huge rack of antlers. On the way back, we had to stop the car and wait in the falling snow as some three dozen wild turkeys crossed the road. I had never expected to see so many wily turkeys at once, and so openly. They didn’t even speed up as they stopped traffic, just kept on their way as if they couldn’t see us, or be seen themselves! So, I ask you: what dread rejection will come from these spectacular sightings? (please oh please not the Clarion/CW/Odyssey rejections already!)


World Fantasy Con and Rodent Update

I’m just back from WFC 2012 in Toronto — well, almost. I got back last night, but my hubby merely tucked me into bed as I babbled on about Moving Wells, possessed elevators, too many books, and how good maple whisky is. Do I need to say I had a great time? I do? Well, I had a fantastic time.

I met new people, starting with those in the caravan driving north. I’d heard of Lucy Snyder (a founding member of WriteShop), but as she’s a member-emeritus now, I’ve never had the opportunity to really speak with her before. Yes, she’s smart and funny and a good person. She brought along another writer I’d never met, Linda Robinson. Linda was truly kind to me, the ‘new writer.’ We spent part of an evening talking about writing, characters and real life in the hallway outside the packed and loud Con Suite. It was great, and very much appreciated. It made me feel like an insider for a change–thanks Linda!

What else to say? There is so much. Listening to music performed by Charles de Lint and his wife and other extremely talented musician/authors–amazing. Seeing the glow of newly-crowned “authors” whose first novels they proudly showing off made me giddy with them; talking Clarion with  former attendees (I’m still a hopeful!) made me eager for submissions to open again; sharing table-space and anecdotes with others–both famous and not–in the Con Suite simply made me glad to be human and be there. I loved the chemistry I glimpsed at work between Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, John Joseph Adams, Aliette de Bodard (who I actually couldn’t see as JJA blocked my view of her), and Mary Robinette Kowal (sorry, I’m not linking to them–if you don’t know them, I suggest you Google these people, and soon!) at the EPIC release party. It made me remember all the joy I get out of writing, why I write to begin with–which was a great thing to recall, just then. Lavie Tidhar’s acceptance of his Best Novel award moved me to tears. (He took the award in hand, said “Thanks,” into the mic and was gone again, too overcome to speak.)

There was more, so much more. But I’ll stop here. You get the idea, and I need to process so much yet. And then I need to sort through the stack of books I brought home… .

Ah, but first, I can hear you asking about the ‘Rodent’ portion of this headline. Are we infested with mice? Did Tribbles overwhelm the Con? No to both. When I got to Toronto, I hit wifi and checked my email. There it was: an email accepting me into the Cleveland-area spec fic writing group called the Cajun Sushi Hamsters! Weeeeeee! What a great way to start the long weekend.

But now, it’s over. I’m home, and a rejection has come through into my inbox. But that’s okay, because it’s a big, beautiful world out there, and I’m only writing a tiny part. Fame and fortune go to some few, but to all who write goes the glory of the written word. Happy writing.

conventions, Personal Life

Prepping for World Fantasy Con 2012

I’m preparing for World Fantasy Con 2012: pulling out the suitcase, deciding what to pack, what to wear. I’m almost always cold, so I pack layers and sweaters–thick, bulky clothes that don’t like to pack nicely. And scarves, to keep my neck warm. Yes, really, I love scarves. (Looking for me? I’ll be wearing a scarf around my neck; there won’t be that many of us, I’m sure, so your odds of finding me this way are quite good.) I try to pack light, but with sweaters, it’s more difficult to take a small bag. It makes the ‘efficient traveler’ in me grumpy, but it seems I’ll be taking a wheeled bag, not my shoulder bag.

I downloaded the program guide from the website today, printed it out and have taken a first look at the panels and readings. Now I have to decide what I must see, what I can bear to miss. Lots of wonderful things are offered up this year, and lots of wonderful panelists, as well. Who is on the panel is often as important to me as the panel’s topic. An author I love, one who’s work really speaks to me, will draw me in even if the topic seems a bit of a stretch. I’m counting on the fact that she/he will put a spin on things and show me things I didn’t know I needed to know–until I heard it.

My Columbus writer’s group is banding together to caravan up to Toronto. They’ll pick me up along the way (another reason I’m lamenting a larger suitcase!) and we’ll all be jolly fighting the effects of Hurricane Sandy that, even now, have stalled rain and winds over the region. Oh what joy, seven writers (or spouses) road-tripping in a storm. Sounds like a great setting for a horror/comedy story, don’t you think?

I’ll be attending the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon–the first one I’ve ever attended. I have no idea what the dress code may be, but I’m guessing not too formal, since a) it’s a luncheon, b) I’m not a nominee, and c) there’s a five-plus hour road-trip on the backside. Still, there’s an allure to being able to dress nicely. Where did this come from? I grew up a tomboy, and still love playing in the dirt, but I dearly love having an occasion and reason to dress up. Packing compactly means no ‘wasted’ clothes…sigh…so don’t expect to see me too fancily clad. Guess I’ll save that for the day someone I know is up there, accepting an award. 🙂

I’ll try to get another post in before I leave, but if not, Happy Halloween everyone!