ArmadilloCon wrap up

One of the best ArmadilloCons ever. Everyone said it. Everyone remarked on the programming, the energy, the panels, the guests, and the fans. The workshop was a blast, and the stories I got to read and the students in my group, were all eager and smart and funny. We all learned some good stuff — it was like a creative writing seminar. And I was so grateful to be part of it.

A shout out to my coteacher Urania Fung — she is so smart and insightful about writing. Everyone should take her class at Tarrant County Community College.

I conducted a writing exercise that went very well. Every time I present this exercise, I never know what to expect. It’s simple — I provide two writing excerpts. One is from mainstream literature, the other a spec-fic selection. The prompt is to rewrite each section, the mainstream, as genre, and the genre as mainstream. The goal is to get at the telling detail, the emotion, the character development, while building a world in service to those aspects. The point is that worldbuilding supports your character and plot; it’s not the point of it. And if you can take a mainstream excerpt and skiff-ify it while keeping the emotional truth, then that’s what you bring in to a speculative story. We’re telling stories, not travelogues (although that can be pretty cool too).

So, every time I teach this, it goes differently. Sometimes students get it, sometimes they don’t, but always there’s some gem that comes out of it. A few students and some of the other workshop teachers told me they enjoyed the exercise.

We tried something different with the Reversa-Panel, which was having audience members talk about what books they enjoyed and why, what they looked for in a good book, and what made they reread if they were rereaders. I’m a big rereader. I love rereading. There are books and authors who are comfort reads for me, there are books that I reread because the writing is like a master class and I want to see how it’s done, and there are books I reread, like mysteries, because even though I know how they end, I loved the journey so much I want to take it again.

It was a blast to be on the law enforcement panel with Myke Cole (tough dude!) and Joe McKinney (Toastmaster!), Jaime Lee Moyer (soft-spoken historical fiction author!) and Rob Rogers (good dad award!), and the late night science panel was surprisingly crowded.

But hey, science girls — please come to science panels. We had me, Amy Sisson, and in the audience JJ Litke. I know that science doesn’t interest everyone, and believe me, my chemistry and physics grades in high school were pretty typical of a fantasy loving English major type, but — and maybe this is too prescriptive — we need more interest in science, and we need more atypical perspectives in science. Maybe now more than ever.

There. Enough preaching. I read from the new novella which is out on submission, and because it’s a prequel to my story Murder on the Hohmann, I even sold a few volumes of the Futuristica anthology.

Great con. Great people. Great parties. Lots of wonderful discussion. Let’s do it all again next year!

“Reflection” out now in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine

My short story, Reflection, is out now in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. This is a lovely magazine, focusing on fairytale-inspired stories, with stunning art and a lovely sensibility. Please visit and check out some gorgeous art and wonderfully evocative stories.

Reflection was written in one fell swoop at Cherrywood Coffee House in Austin, Texas. I was sitting opposite my writing buddy, Rebecca Schwarz, and the story poured out of me. It has changed somewhat since that first explosion of words, but it remains essentially the same. It was originally titled The Cinderella Gaze, but I think Reflection suits it better.

Is narcissism a drug? And if it is, are we infecting our young people? This makes me sound like such a grumpy curmudgeon, but I can’t help but wonder — we spend so much time, energy, and focus on external appearance, especially of our young women, we are sapping their energy for anything else.

The ritual cleaning of the office in between manuscripts

That floor is a thing of beauty.
That floor is a thing of beauty.

I believe that humans are creatures of ritual — renewal and rebirth, migration and return. We are dependent on the ebb and flow of tides and the circle of the seasons. Even now, when we are largely creatures removed from the need to hunt and forage, when we are no longer dependent upon growing seasons, we crave that sense of marking time. It’s no longer the first and last frosts, or the equinox or the solstice, or the tide and the phases of the moon. When we don’t have that instinct that it’s time to move on to the next hunting ground or to follow the sun south, we make our own rhythms and our own cycles.

Y’all, I just cleaned out my office. The manuscript is complete — well, that was done a while ago, but now, the second draft edits are done. I didn’t take a before picture because I couldn’t even stand to go into the room. It was a landfill. Paper everywhere, books everywhere,  music all over the place — it was horrendous. I couldn’t find anything, and there was stuff falling out of shelves and cabinets. But behold! A clear floor. The ritual cleaning of the office is complete. The old project is put to bed, and I have cleared space emotionally, physically, and mentally.

So you all know what this means, righ?

Time to start a new novel.