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.

review, Writing

“Cold Currents” gets a Review

Locus Magazine short fiction reviewer Karen Burnham took a look at the January edition of Abyss & Apex Magazine, wherein my flash fiction story, “Cold Currents,” is published. I’m really pleased to say it was one of three stories that stood out enough for her to review. (It’s in the print edition on pg 40)

The highlight of the review states my story is “an intense piece of flash fiction” and that “The rapidly evolving sensations from [the narrator’s] POV make good use of the short format.”

As you can guess, this delights me. I’m also pleased to pass along kudos to this edition’s other two authors and stories favorably reviewed here: “Exactly What You Need” by Brandon Crilly, and “Adrift” by Wayne Martin. Go give them a read!

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, the dog

Definitely Spring!

Yes, I know the calendar told us that the first day of spring has just passed, but I’ve been seeing so much spring around here lately, and it’s awesome, so I’m gonna share!

The plum tree is covered in gumball-sized fruits of dull, celery green, and the new blueberry bushes are awash with clusters of greenish fruit, as well. The earliest loquats are now ripe, with more changing from greenish-yellow to golden orange every day. In the veggie garden, while the recent cooler weather has not been to my sulking tomatoes’ liking, the carrots and onions are thriving!

We’ve spotted our first hummingbirds, out at the purple-flowering sage in the front, and within an hour I had both hummingbird feeders out (I haven’t spotted any takers, yet, despite the chill temps early in the mornings). And Cedar Waxwings are swarming the holly tree outside my dining room window (and every berry-holding tree in the neighborhood honestly), swallowing down every ripe berry they can coax off the branches, fueling their trips further northwards.

And finally, how about the bigger wildlife?

Let’s start with Dasher. He adores sleeping in the sunbeams, as you know. I move soft bed out into the lanai and he takes a toy (or four) out with him, a security blanket to hold in his mouth as he dozes contentedly. Here’s his toy-of-choice yesterday:

Yes, he chose to wrestle that gator into submission, and looked quite comfortable holding it helpless in his so-powerful jaws! (snort, snert!)

And then, my sister (visiting from Ohio) and I went out to Payne’s Prairie to check out the scene. There was the owl, visible high in the live oak near the entrance, and even a fluffy chic, just as big as the parent but still incapable of flight, near the very top, basking in a sunbeam! (too high up; my pics turned out terrible–use your imagination???)

We proceeded to the boardwalk, where we were met with this:

Click to em-biggen any of these photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right–a momma gator and her brood. At first, it looked like only 3, then 5. Then we managed to count 7, then 12–and then we saw more underneath the boardwalk, and some on the other side… In short, I have no idea how many baby gators were there. But momma knew. A wading bird came near and she moved, threatening it until it flew off, looking for a cheaper meal. And we heard the babies give their little beeping cries now and again. While I’d been hoping to see some gators, I never expected this! And never this close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were other treasures too–an anhinga, sunbathing so close we could almost touch it. And loads of snakes of various stripes: garter snakes, water moccasins, brown water snakes. Rails and moorhens and egrets and herons and red-winged mockingbirds and…yeah, we went back to stare some more at the baby gators. They were the stars of the day.

Looking out at Payne’s Prairie from a small rise.
Not headless, but looking below it into the water! See the orange beak near the top of the tail, to the left?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

goals, Magic of the Everyday, Writing

Spring Changes

This week, the sandhill cranes have been gathering into great flocks that swirl up the late morning thermals into the higher altitudes, their melancholy voices calling and overlapping into a overwhelming, bittersweet chorus as they begin their long journeys northwards. Yesterday morning, the far end of the alley, where the trees are thickest, was overrun with robins. Hundreds of them, chirping and calling and catching every bug they could find before they, too, flew off in loose groups of tens and twenties for their northern mating grounds.

My windows are open all night, and local strawberries are in at the farmers’ market. On the afternoon dog walk, we seek out the shady path instead of the sunny one. And the plum tree has burst into fluffy white bloom, promising another bumper crop come summer. Even the wee new blueberry bushes are in blossom!

Plum tree in blossom

It’s official, then. Spring is here. The groundhog was right. Despite the snow and ice still plaguing the north, the birds are flying spring up to you.

Spring is a season of change. Of renewal and rebirth. And in that light, I have some news of a wonderful change in my life: I have been accepted as an Active Member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America! This has been a goal of mine for a very long time, and I’m thrilled to be able to join this organization, and to nominate and vote on the Nebula Awards!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Travel

December Travels

The Spousal Unit and I celebrated a Significant Anniversary this year, so we celebrated by taking a Significant Trip. We chose to return to Nürnberg, Germany (where we lived for a couple years) to visit the annual Christmas Market, or Christkindlesmarkt (which we haven’t seen for nearly 20 years!!!!!!).

The view from our window on a rare, blue-skied moment.

It was a magnificent trip! We stayed at a VRBO just inside the Altstadt walls, close to the tower gate that we entered when we lived there. It was quiet and peaceful, and close to everything, including mass transit. Perfect! Here’s a view from our window.

The market was everything we recalled: nice and fun and filled with delights during the week, and a crazed mass of wall-to-wall people on Saturday night. Honestly, even wearing a winter coat, some of those folks I skooched by now know me really well. But the food was good, the glühwein warming and yummy, and the sound of the bells ringing out from each church a sheer delight. We brought home gifts both for ourselves and our friends, but the best thing we brought home was memories–both reawakened old ones, and new ones from this trip.

Here are a few pics from our adventures.  

 

 

 

It was amazing how many things had changed. But it was also reassuring how much had remained the same. And as with every good trip, I’m glad we went, I’m gladder to be home again, and yet I can’t wait to return.

Nürnberg holds a tiny piece of my heart, forever.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life, Writing

Hey, What the Heck’s Been Going On? A Round-Up

I’ve had an incredibly busy summer–and now that it’s fall (by human reckoning, if not by Mother Nature’s calendar), I’d like to tell you about it. Get comfy–grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair–as this may take awhile.

First off, I’ve been battling some not-fun health issues. I won’t get into them here, but suffice it to say, I’ve not been getting as much writing done as I’d like, and that has made me a bit grumpy. And, it loosed the ever-patient brain weasels–you know, those mad little beasts that like to nibble away at your self-confidence, erode your cheer into fear, etc., at any chance. If you’re a creative of any time, I’m sure you’ve experienced them. Basically, not writing made me cringe, but whatever writing I did wasn’t “good enough,” or even just “enough.” I should have been doing more. Which made me want to not want to write, because it made me feel bad. Which unleashed yet more brain weasels…

You see how this is a nasty cycle. Fortunately, (I think?) I’m familiar enough with this that I just keep plugging away at it. I let the weasels run riot and do my darnedest to ignore them. They don’t go away, but at least I don’t let them monopolize my brain.

So despite the weasels, I managed to finish the first draft of Unspoken, and I’m closing in on my plan for the rewrite, which is what Draft 2 will be: a complete rewrite.

You might think I’d be upset about that, and well, let’s face it–I wish I could just do a quick polish and know it’s “perfect.” Of course I do. But it’s not, and I’m okay with that. I know what I need to do, and I want this novel to be good, really good. I feel it can get there, and this is the way to do it. (Thanks go to my husband, and my VP, Taos, and Codex friends and acquaintances who’ve been cheerleaders along the way, keeping me up when I got down, and shouting down the weasels when they got to me.)

How can you not love this guy?

The dog has been mostly good, fortunately. He had a pretty hard seizure yesterday, but it’s the first for a while. Since he’d been kenneled, I’m not sure what the trigger was for this one–maybe just stress? He is a homebody and a cling-on boy, so it may well be the case. Other than this, he’s been good. No surgeries, no real illnesses (other than a startling case of allergy to some pollen or another), just chillin’ away the summer heat and humidity. So YAY!

How would you even describe that shade of purple?

At the beginning of summer, the plum tree went berserk, and I managed to make all the plum jam. Now the beautyberry bush is in full lavender berry, and I’m making beautyberry jelly. It’s really very good, and made a terrific ice cream! Fiddly as all get out to pick the berries off the stems, and pull out the leaves and other various debris, but worth it in the end. The recipe I used is here.

Spousal Unit and I celebrated our anniversary recently–a big one, too. One that’s valued as a precious metal, even–Silver! (But it’s odd, I don’t feel that old.) To celebrate, we went to Disney World (hence the dog being kenneled), and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I got to wake up and look out our balcony window to see giraffes, zebra, antelope, springbok, and more. I was in heaven! Interns from various African countries worked at the lodge, and were very happy to discuss their countries’ various cultures, animals, foods, economies, etc. It was really amazing, and I loved every bit of it. Here are some pics, just because I need to share the joy:

Giraffes from our lodge
Reaching for that palm
Mama and baby Nyala antelope at the lodge
Another stretch!
Sunrise antelope
Evening at the lodge’s main viewing station: pink pelicans, giraffe, wildebeest…
A great group of interns finishing up their year at Disney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last pic is of a fantastic group of interns we met while in line at the Pandora ikrom ride (which is awesome!). They were finishing up their yearlong internships at Disney, and would soon be heading back to Singapore. We had a great 50 minutes line-wait chatting together, and they had nothing but good to say about their experience.

Which brings me back to home. And the upcoming trip…

This next weekend, weather and hurricanes permitting, I’m heading off to a 2-week residency in Key West, where I’ll be feverishly working on the novel’s rewrite. I’m so excited I’m bouncing at the prospect of 2 full weeks with nothing to do but write and, well, basically keep myself alive by eating and sleeping. I’ll report back once I’m home, but don’t expect to see a lot from me (yeah, I know–what else is new?!?) during the end of September. Maybe on Twitter now and again, but probably not too much.

I’ll leave you with a bit of good news: my story Cold Currents has gotten a publication date! You’ll be able to read it in January 2019 at Abyss & Apex Magazine. Hurray! And yes, I’ll be sure to update with a reminder at publication time.

Until then, enjoy September!

 

 

publication, review

Another review for “After the Story Ends”

(Note: Yes, this is rather late. Sorry about that–life, yada yada)

Back in the spring, SFRevu did a column on Galaxy’s Edge Magazine #30, which includes my story, After the Story Ends. And it seems they liked it! Hurray! Here’s the relevant bit:

“After the Story Ends” by M.E. Garber -+- Melanie Smead has rescued her daughter, Aurora, from Fairy and returned home with her. Happy ending? Well, the problem is that she misses the beautiful land of Fairy and can’t stand the humdrum real world. What can she do? An imaginative tale with a good resolution.

Needless to say, I’m very pleased that the reader/reviewer enjoyed this one, and I hope you do as well. You can find it in the archives of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine’s website.

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Travel

Home Again, Home Again

I’m back from my trip to London, where I stayed with friend and Taos Toolbox roommate, Mel Melcer. We had a great time, and ended up nearly walking our feet off. And hey, I discovered some things about the UK.

For starters, all that “rain and dreary gray” nonsense was just that–nonsense–during my trip. It was hot. I mean, I packed the wrong clothes! I ended up buying a sleeveless top, and wished I’d brought a pair of shorts, or a skirt. Whew! We sought out the shade, and changed plans one day to avoid London due to the heat (well, that and our tired feet…).

Also, Big Ben isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Photo proof here:

Big Ben covered in scaffolding.

OK, in reality, the trip was awesome. I saw so many amazing things, ate and drank great things, and on top of all that, 3 of my Taos Toolbox classmates and I got together one evening, and had a great time.

Instead of blathering on, let me share a few photos with you. But first, other amazing things not pictured: visiting Forbidden Planet; attending a reading/meeting of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club; touring Westminster Abbey, walking St. James Park; my first British tea house tea, including my choice of really superb gluten-free cakes; riding the Tube; meeting Mel’s cats, and tonnes more!

Tower Bridge. Got to see the drawbridge raise to let a paddlewheel river boat through. Riverboat’s name? Considering where I’d come from it was, ironically enough, the Dixie Queen.
Panoramic view of the Thames riverside walkway, with a strange aberration from the “pano” process that tickles my fantasy-laden fancy!
Beefeater Tour Guide at the London Tower. He’s also the Raven Master!
One of the seven ravens held at the Tower. Meet Merlin.
Shakespeare statue in the park where the Taos group met; I particularly like the quote on the scroll old Will is holding.
“Alien life forms” in a greenhouse at RHS Wisley Gardens. (These gardens were a-mazing!)
Sparkling wine with Mel (left) and me (right) in her garden.
Feeding the swan and cygnets at Hever Castle and Gardens–another great place to explore!
Inside Hever Castle, looking out into the central courtyard.
Mel and I ride the London Eye, getting a great view of practically everything!
Husband loves scotch. But he did NOT get this one, which I saw at the World of Whiskey, inside Gatwick Airport. (click to embiggen, and check out that Duty Free price! Yikes.)