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.

publication, Writing

Story Release Day for “Cold Currents”

Happy New Year!

For me, 2019 is immediately looking up, because today my short story, Cold Currents, is available at Abyss & Apex Magazine. It’s very short, but very special to me. Let me tell you why.

Over on Codex, where I’m a member, there are a number of flash-fiction writing contests each year where contestants are given prompts and have a short amount of time to write a new tale. This story started here, with the prompt being “Interview an older generation relative and write a story around something you learn from them.” Well, at first I thought that prompt was out for me, since all my older relatives are gone. My siblings and I are now the eldest of our tribe.

But then I remembered that my sister had, just two weeks before, sent me a clipping she’d found from an old newspaper. It turns out that our maternal grandfather, a fireman in Toledo, Ohio, had jumped into the river to save a potential suicide’s life. I’d never known this about him–none of us had. Grandpa had died when I was just three.

Now I really wished I could talk with him and find out why he’d done this. The clipping had plagued me, so I decided to write this story using that clipping as my “interview.”

I changed a whole lot, of course. My grandfather’s background was German, but his name was Arthur, not Otto. And as far as I know, no one in my family has committed suicide, thankfully, although there is a streak of depression running through us.

This story is also special because it marks my first “repeat performance,” and at a market I love. A definite Writer’s Career Bingo square, if not two.

So there you have it. A chance bumping together of a story prompt and an unexpected, yellowed newspaper clipping about my grandfather’s young days on the fire squad brings about my first repeat sale to a market.

Here’s hoping the year only goes up from here. Wishing you hope, health, and happiness in 2019.


More About “3rd and Starlight”

Our intrepid editor, Dr Robert B Finegold, just gave us the A-OK to continue with the goodies about the forthcoming “3rd & Starlight” anthology, and gave us links to his Facebook page with his official announcement. So, without further ado, here is my update.

Now, at long last, I can let the cat out of the bag. I can squee loudly and long–not only that gorgeous cover, but now, interior illustrations! And the example given is from my very own offering, Amma’s Wishes! I am gobsmacked. Astounded. And very, very pleased.






Also, the interior graphic design promises to be just as lovely. Here’s an image, and a quote direct from the boss’s mouth:

“…and what a beautiful volume it will be!

Drop caps for the start of each story, special characters for section breaks (“rocket” for science fiction and “starlight” – of course – for fantasy)… Here’s just a peek from the Introduction.

…AND (*fanfare*), each story is ILLUSTRATED by the multi-talented M. Elizabeth Ticknor! 🙂

All the preceding enhancements will be present in BOTH the ebook and the print editions. Our ebook is not treated as a poor second in the care placed in its beauty of its design. Our CInderella will truly be the belle of the ball.

And there is still more to come!”

That last line, did you catch it? Yes, there will be more  (very good) news to come. Stay tuned! I can’t wait to share it with you.

food, publication, Writing

“With the Taste of Oblivion…” Now Available!

In all the rush and fury of late (and my current state of ill health–yuck!), I missed informing you that my story, “With the Taste of Oblivion in Her Mouth” has gone live at the online magazine Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores. Please note: the stories are behind a paywall. An annual subscription is $12, but I’ve read some great stories there (besides my own, of course!), so I hope you’ll consider joining.

A tidbit about this story? Of course!

This was written in response to two prompts. One was someone having a job that does not exist here-and-now, whether it’s futuristic or fantastical. The other prompt was an event that appears to be calamitous proves not to be so. And I’d been thinking rather a lot about cooking, and all the things flavors can say–how it’s a language in itself, sometimes, and how food can transport people, the same as scent, or sound. All these things wrapped around in my brain, twisting together, until this little story was born.

I hope you enjoy it. Bon appetit!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Reading, Writing

Helping to Destroy Brain Weasels, One by One

There’s been an interesting discussion going on in an online group I belong to. Normal discussion threads run hot and heavy with Impostor Syndrome, Brain Weasels, and the like. But this one started being about short fiction goals and migrated into how shockingly cool and inspiring and awesome it is to receive reader feedback on a story you wrote. That it feels validating in some deep way.

One participant, Shane Halbach,  took the next step and connected the two ideas into one amazing gestalt, and he’s allowed me to quote him here:

Sometimes it feels silly, like “well of course this author knows this is a good story — it is amazing and published in this pro zine after all — so it’s stupid of me to tell them so!” or “oh this author is an old pro who’s been doing this forever, so they’re probably totally over it.”

And then I come over to Codex and we all talk about our brain weasels. There’s some kind of break between me in author mode and me in reader mode. I mean, I know how it feels on the receiving end and can you imagine someone messaging you to tell you they liked your story and being annoyed by that?? Never.

So now I make an effort to drop a note to someone whenever I really enjoyed a story. Not every story, but anything that I truly enjoyed.

After reading this, I sat there stunned, waiting for the reverberations within me to fade so that I could process this. I mean, it sounds so simple, so obvious: I’ve had more than my fair share of brain weasels–those nasty, vicious thoughts that tell you how bad this story you’ve written is, how bad a writer you are–and I know they are devastating. I’ve also read stories that have made me think “OMG, that is soooooo beautiful and amazing.” And I’ve read threads on this writers’ site where some writers talk about how nervous they are at the reception of a forthcoming story, or how they fear that it’s garbage and they just got lucky–whatever. I’ve even felt that way myself.

And yet it never dawned on me to send a note to a writer, telling them how wonderful I found that story or book. I can tell you one thing: I will be doing that more often now. In this interconnected age of ours, it’s easier and faster than ever to say something nice to someone, but so often the only messages relayed are anger or annoyance. I’m hoping to change that, to brighten someone’s day who has brightened mine by their written words. I hope you’ll join me.

Just to be clear, this is not a plea for all of you to tell me how awesome my stories are. If something I wrote (or write in the future) really affects you, sure, by all means, let me know. Of course I’d love to hear it. But I’d love just as much for you to tell other writers, other authors, that something they wrote meant a lot to you. Leave a comment on a blog or Facebook page, Tweet them, email them. Even a nice comment on the publication’s “comment” section is good.

research, science, Travel

Vintage-Style Travel Posters…from NASA!

NASA has some absolutely gorgeous space travel posters that you can print (they really have printable file sizes!) to liven up your room with intriguing images. Dream about the glories of Titan’s methane seas, or the eternal night skies of PSO J318.5-22, a rogue planet not tied to any sun. These posters are real beauties, and I’m going to be printing up a couple for my writing space, and dreaming of those who may, one day, actually travel to these wondrous places.


publication, Writing

“Blue Flame” Now Live at Saturday Night Reader

There you have it. Today, “Blue Flame Burns the Hottest” goes live at Saturday Night Reader. It’s a soft and sweet near-future SF flash tale about families, and tech, and growing together instead of apart. It deals with a woman growing actually wiser as she grows older, even though it’s hard.

The working title was the none-too-pleasant “Grannie’s VR.” Still, it encapsulated the dichotomy of the story I wanted to tell–Grandma: old-fashioned and supposedly out of touch, with VR: modern, shiny, & futuristic.

Some of this comes from the sense I have, as I grow older, of feeling out-of-date to my lively, pre- and early-teen great-nieces and great-nephews. (Hey, no judging here! I’ve been a great-aunt since college! It just means I’m great!) How much more so will this be when home tech takes another momentous leap forward, and I’m not on that wave? When, like my mother-in-law with the TV remote (or my own long-gone grandmother with the automobile), I’ll need help figuring out all this new-fangled stuff? And what great things will come along with it?

I’m all for a virtual immersive experience–how cool would that be? It could change so much: gaming, work, study and research, even travel. But as with Caroline in the story, I would still want some in-person face time to keep familial connections strong, and actual in a world going virtual. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But I think it makes a neat story, too.


Edited to add: Well, that’s a little embarrassing! I set this post to automatically post itself at 8:30 this morning, and didn’t get around to checking my email/online life until nearly noon. (Yes, I’m keeping holiday hours today!) Only then did I discover that my story isn’t up yet. Perhaps SNR forgot about the holiday they scheduled my story? Or it’ll post later in the day? Well, whatever the case, I’m leaving this post for when it does go live. As they say, better early than late…???

Further edited to add: Weee! Now it’s up! Go forth and read…please?

Personal Life, research, signal boosting

Quick Update

I’ve been hopping here with Dasher’s recovery from a second patella surgery. Not fun; it’s a toss-up as to who will die first; me from worrying over the dog, or the dog when I kill him because he’s trying to do something stupid again. (Aargh! Good thing I think he’s cute!)

So, not much to say here. But I do want to draw your attention to this fundraiser for Earth & If you look over in my links, you’ll see Earth & as one of the few that I link to. I get their daily email newsletter filled with fascinating things about our world and our universe. They’re currently hosting a one-month fundraiser. Yes, it’s already fully funded. They got there in one day(!!!), but I’m hoping they receive even more money, to expand and update even more. If you have some spare change, I hope you’ll join me in supporting them. And maybe spread the word to let their fundraiser grow.

Wish me patience. Dasher wants to play!!! (NO. You have to rest. Let the incision heal. Oh, please don’t whine. I’m sorry, pup…) Sigh.