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!


Amy Sisson · August 8, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Enjoyed the recap!

Would you be willing to e-mail me the two writing excerpts so I can try my hand at your exercise? Sounds fascinating, and I could use a creative kick-start right now. I’m at amy.a.sisson on gmail. (If it’s proprietary for some reason and you’re not comfortable sharing, no worries. At any rate, I would not pass it on further without your permission.)

Patrice Sarath · August 9, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Sure! Check your e-mail. And if anyone else wants to try, drop me a line.

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