GenCon – tentative schedule achieved


One of my 38 things this year was to attend a convention with a strong writer’s track. Writer's Symposium

I have booked convention tickets for GenCon, arranged time off work, booked airline tickets and a hotel, found a roommate, and the last step in my pre-convention excitement, I have signed up for several of the seminars and two workshops (former are free, later cost a small amount) to keep me well occupied, and learning, from Thursday – Sunday.

So, here’s current schedule (subject to change):

Writer’s Craft: Eliciting Emotional Responses 11:00 AM
Writer’s Craft: Atmospheric Writing 12:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Editing Your Work 1:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: When to Show, When to Tell 2:00 PM
Business of Writing: Professional Organizations (SFWA, IAMTW, & More) 3:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Killing Off Characters 4:00 PM
Worldbuilding: When Your World is a Character 6:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Novel Outlines & Synopsis 7:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Finding Work for Your Inner Critic—Self-Editing for Fiction Writers 9:00 AM
Writer’s Craft: Rewrites & Second Drafts 11:00 AM
Writer’s Craft: Plot Design 12:00 PM
Writer’s Life: Breaking Writer’s Block 2:00 PM
Writer’s Life: Writer’s & Mental Health—You’re Not Alone 4:00 PM
Worldbuilding: Mythology 6:00 PM
Worldbuilding: Governments & Laws 7:00 PM
Character Craft: Character Voice 10:00 AM
Worldbuilding: Flora, Fauna, & the Natural World 11:00 AM
Worldbuilding: Writing a World’s History 12:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Sustaining the Tension in Novels 1:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Hickman’s Guide to the Care & Feeding of Your Audience 2:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Magic and the Modern World 3:00 PM
Worldbuilding: Creating Religions 4:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Is Your Story Ready to Sell? 5:00 PM
Special Event: Writing Excuses Podcast Recording LIVE! 6:00 PM
Character Craft: Build Them Up After Tearing Them Down 11:00 AM
Business of Writing: Schmoozing 101 12:00 PM


Writing To-Do List

A few weeks ago I was going through containers in my office, and I decided to pull out all of my journals, morning pages and writing notebooks.  When I was done, I was surrounded by no fewer than 40 various sized notebooks, plus another 30 or so “fit in your pocket” notebooks I habitually carry around. As I was thus surrounded my husband passed through the room. I looked up at him from where I was walled in and said “You know, I’m beginning to think that I’m a writer.”

Notebooks I carried with me today.

Notebooks I carried with me today.

For me being a writer is just part of who I am, and it comes across in how I choose to spend my leisure time, the obligations to other writers and writing groups I take on, and in my job.  My obligations and feel-I-shoulds vary across this range, and I find that right now I am facing a great number of things that fall on my writing and writing related to-do list.

  • Finish Minion Handbook
    • Finish entries
    • Create Table of Contents
    • Add illustrations and maps
    • Final edits
    • Send to customer
  • “Wedding” story – write first draft from outline (for online writing group)
  • “Troubled Teen” story – figure out new ending (from short story intensive class)
  • Outline “donor” story for new site with sister,
  • Review & update outline for “fox boy” story; send outline to writing mentor
  • Finalize new online writing group from Short Story Intensive class
  • Prepare for “How to Critique” workshop with local writing group
  • Prepare for “Critiquing our Critiques” session with online writing group
  • Work with local writing group to set up spring writing retreat
  • Follow up with “off line” critique group
  • Beta read novel for author friend
  • Write training course for Introduction to UF’s Institutional Repository
  • Write presentation for USETDA conference (co-author)

Obviously these all have different levels of importance and time commitments, and they range in tasks from writing to reading, from creating PowerPoint Presentations to corresponding with group members.

All in all, I think I may have enough writing to keep me happy for a while 🙂

Fiction: Letter to Lady Vincent

Shades of Milk and Honey - Glamourist Histories book 1

Shades of Milk and Honey – Glamourist Histories book 1


I very much enjoy the Glamourist History series by Mary Robinette Kowal. So when Mary offered to answer letters, in character, that were written to either of the two main characters in the historical fantasy world, with the stipulation that you need to adhere to the time where the characters were, and that’s when you’d get replies from (currently 1817), I knew I had to write to Jane.

Below is a copy of the first draft of the letter – it was edited slightly for grammar, spelling, consistency and whim as I wrote it out long-hand. I had beautiful hand-stamped stationary a friend had given me, and even have sealing wax and a stamp with my first initial which I used to adorn the envelope (then tapped down so it didn’t break and fall away completely in transit).

I sent this out, and am looking forward to the reply. It was nice to be able to immerse myself into the Glamourist universe for a time, and write as though I lived there – a great way to feel even more involved in a story that I love.

Dear Lady Vincent,

I hope you do not find me too forward in writing to you. My Aunt on my father’s side had the pleasure of meeting the Misses Cornell on her most recent travels to the continent. They were quite taken with you and your husband, and fairly pressed an article about the Carlton House Glamour into her hands, all atwitter about the two signatures laid there. Despite what the article said, the Misses Cornell told her, you did half of the Glamour in that beautiful undersea Glamour. My Aunt has relayed this story to me on numerous visits, and I have come to regard you as a kind and generous lady who would not look unkindly on a letter from a stranger – though it may odd the illusion of familiarity the retelling of such a story would breed in me towards a Lady. Yet truly, I do feel comfortable writing you.

Regrettably, I have not had the pleasure of a trip to London, though my Aunt (the same who met the Misses Cornell) has visited the Carlton House, and has, on past occasion, been party to see other works created by your husband prior to his attachment to you. Her opinion is that his work is improved for the extra set of skilled hands and a keen eye for design.

I am writing to you on a matter that I hope is not too far removed from the art of Glamour as to make you uncomfortable, as that is what you are known for publically. I am fascinated with Glamour, but a weakness of the heart prevents me from studying it in earnest. Instead, I turn my time and creative attentions in setting pen to page, and trying to elicit images from the written word where others paint can paint it in the air.

On a recent morning constitutional, I began to see there are certain parallels that can be drawn between the craft of writing and that of Glamour; at least I hope there are. I was wondering, when you and Lord Vincent are designing the larger Glamours, such as the one at Carlton House, do you start work with merely an idea of the finished work, and embellish as you go, or do you design out all the elements before starting? When crafting a story I find I have an idea of the ending in mind, but that my initial plans may change as I create the work, and was wondering if the same is true for Glamour.

Also, I am curious about the division of labour in creating glamours with a partner. How much of the design is yours, and how much is Lord Vincent’s? How do you determine who manages which portions of the glamour once the design is set? I am hesitant to take on a partner in writing, in part because I am ashamed that my lack of ability to perform glamour is my reason for taking up this art, however I have a niece who has expressed an interest in creating a story jointly with me, but I am unsure how to proceed with a partnership, or even if it is something I am comfortable doing.

Oh, I fear I have rambled on further than I meant to. I thank you for your kind regards, and I know you will be ever as gracious as my Aunt has proclaimed a Lady should be.

Sincerely, and with greatest admiration,
Mrs. S_
P.S. My maiden name is Christine M_, and the Aunt in question is of that family, in case you were wondering, or may have met her in your travels. My own life has kept me snuggly in our homestead, and I do not have great exposure to wider circles, and thus do not expect my name to be recognizable of its own merit. At least until such time as my written works make it out into the world (which my husband enthusiastically encourages me to do, though my modesty holds me back.)

Retro Post, Fiction: What Love Means

Written 2/7/2005, based on the prompt that is the first line. Originally posted on my writing Livejournal ( and then on the original site.

[cryout-pullquote align=”center” textalign=”left” width=”85%”]”I thought love meant never having to say you’re sorry.”

Madison stopped at the words. “No, Kyra, that’s infallibilty,” she said, and resumed her trip to the wardrobe. “And that’s something neither of us is.”

Madison removed the last of her clothing from the hangers, and shoved them in the duffel bag that sat, overflowing, on the end of the bed. “Unless, maybe, you’re God, and just forgot to tell me,” she added, zipping the bag shut for emphasis. She knew she was being cruel to Kyra, but she also knew that if she wasn’t, she’d give in to the tears that were now streaming down the younger girl’s face, and stay. Again. It was a pattern she was tired of.

“You…you know…I…wouldn’t…do anything…to hurt you,” Kyra managed to get out through her sobs. The “not intentionally” which followed was mumbled, but Madison heard it. Just as she’d heard it numerous times before.

“That’s not going to cut it this time, Kyra. It’s the same old tune you always have, and somehow, no matter how you swear it will never happen agian, it always does. And I’m the one that gets screwed, Kyra. Me. I’m not about to stick around and let it happen again.”

Madison picked up the duffel bag in one hand and flung her backpack over her other shoulder, grabbing her purse in her free hand. “I’ll send Davie or Tracy over for the rest,” she said and moved for the door.

Kyra got there first and stood in front of the door, her arms outstretched. Madison kept her eyes focused on the door. “Move.”

“Just let me explain, Madison. I’m sorry, I really am. But nothing happened, not like you think. Peter’s the one who approached me, not vice versa, and besides-”

“I said move,” Madison said through clenched teeth. The duffel bag was heavy in her hand, but she would not set it down. It was the only thing keeping her from lashing out and punching. At Kyra, at the door, she didn’t know, and didn’t care, which one she migh hit.

“Just look at me, goddammit. I know I’ve done things that have royally screwed you before, and I know it was more than I deserved each time you forgave me. How could I not? Everyone was always telling me you were too good for me. Everyone told me I should just leave, since I caused you so much pain – I know I did, and I’m sorry. And I know I don’t deserve another chance, not after all I’ve done. But you always trusted me. You always believed I could be better. And I tried to be better, because you knew I could be. But I’m not that goood, and I kept failing. But you always caught me and set me back on track. You made me better than I ever dreamed I could be, and I love you for that.”

“If you love me,” Madison said, meeting the younger girl’s eyes momentarily, “let me go.” She focused on the weight of the backpack on her shoulder and the nylon handles digging into her hand to get her mind off the pleading voice. She stared at the door, picking out individual grains to override the image of Kyra’s tear streaked face and pouty lips.

“I will, I just… I swear nothing happened this time. Not like the other times. Not with Peter. He came to me, upset, and we talked. I swear that’s all. But you don’t believe me. Of course you don’t,” Kyra said miserably. “When have I ever given you reason to trust me.”

Kyra stepped aside, opening the door.

“Thank you,” Madison said, carefully controlling her voice to keep it steady. She looked out the door, but didn’t move.

“Madi?” Kyra’s voice was tentative. Madison could hear the hope in it.

“Good bye,” Madison said, and walked out the door.[/cryout-pullquote]

Retro Post, Fiction: Finish That Thought #2

Originally posted on my writing livejournal site,, this is a story I wrote for a flash fiction contest. The Finish That Thought contest happens every Tuesday, and you are given the first line from which to create a story of up to 500 words.

I always like seeing what I can do to twist expectations.

[cryout-pullquote align=”center” textalign=”left” width=”85%”]

Finish That Thought #2 entry

“Watch out for that tree!”

Margot dives into a roll, but not quite fast enough, and the branches scratch her arms, tearing her shirt. She steps back a few paces and flashes me a quick smile before turning to face her new opponent.

The oak only has a few rings beyond sapling, but is a determined fighter – better strategy than I’ve seen on most foliage that size. The young are usually, pardon the pun, greener. But this one seems to have absorbed techniques older trees use, diverting an opponent’s attention while sliding into position for a better attack.

If Margot were a lesser ‘jack then she’d be in trouble, but the extra hours put in after classes, and coveted holiday hours spent in groves has paid off. The other fights have drifted away from hers. The burrowing tortoise has found a softer belly in other contestants, letting her concentrate on the flora.

The oak rains down acorns on her, but Margot is prepared for the move. Her shield scatters most of them, but a few find flesh. Her eyes are bright with adrenaline, but her brow furrows as she glances at the fallen seeds. She nudges one with her steel-toed boot, and frowns. A rustling alerts her, and she jumps back. The oak’s leaves shake as though a tropical storm disturb them, but the day is dry and still.

Margot is treading more carefully now, concentration replacing her reassured smile.

I lean closer, trying to determine what’s wrong, but a holly bush slides in and blocks my view. The kid hacking at the other side is greener than a sapling, his arms covered in small scratches from the sharp leaves, his blood as bright as his opponents’ berries.

A rustle and thump from beyond the bush, and I hear Margot let out a little yelp of surprise. Growling in frustration, I squeeze past the other viewers, and run for the little hill beyond the observation deck. The field is full of motion, flora and fauna paired off against human fighters, a twisting of nature and brutality where our youth prove their worth to become full ‘jacks, sanctioned to go on missions with the adults.

There are always those who try too early – I’m going to wait until I’m sixteen, personally, but Margot, at fourteen she’s better than most who have the full two score most ‘jacks do.

I scan the grounds again, trying to pick out Margot. My eyes finally settle on the one spot in the field where stillness reigns. Splintered branches of the oak are jarring sight, but my heart stops as I see Margot, still as the tree, propped up against its bark. Tears form in my eyes as I realize the leaves that surround do not belong to the oak.

It is as lifeless as she.

The glossy foliage is inherent to an older plant. Craftier. Pulling Margot into a final embrace, waist and throat.

A creeper vine.[/cryout-pullquote]