The Post of Everything Reading

First off, in case you missed it, my short story “Earn Your Breath,” is a staff pick of 2018 at Cast of Wonders and has been re-released with a new intro/outro by community manager, Dani Daly. You can listen to/read it here. My happily child-free heart is very fond of this story and I’m grateful to Dani and Cast of Wonders for bringing it to the forefront again.

Also—the Hugo Awards nomination period is now open, and this story is eligible in the short story category. I am also eligible for the Campbell.

Next up, my 2018 reading challenge results. I didn’t quite make it on either the Book Riot Read Harder challenge or the Badass Reading Challenge, though I did get close. For 2019, I’m paring it down somewhat and going with the Book Riot Read Harder challenge because I’m really drawn to this year’s list. I was going to keep it to one challenge, but then the King County Library System announced their 10 to Try challenge, and it almost entirely coincides with the Book Riot one so I figured, why not?

Here’s the list of what I read for each of the challenges in 2018:

Badass Reading Challenge:

  1. A book about a problem facing society today: Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
  2. Author with the same first or last name as you: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer
  3. A book with your favorite color in the title: Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
  4. A book written by a local author: The Cold Eye, by Laura Anne Gilman
  5. A book about nature: Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, by Paul Greenberg
  6. A book written by a person of a different ethnicity than yourself: Unexpected Stories, by Octavia E. Butler
  7. A celebrity memoir: The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher
  8. A book about or has a character with a mental illness: Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
  9. A book about time travel: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson
  10. A book about a villain or antihero: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie C. Dao
  11. A book tied to your ethnicity: Invisible Asians: Korean American Adoptees, Asian American Experiences, & Racial Exceptionalism (Asian American Studies Today), by Kim Park Nelson
  12. A book recommended by someone else in this challenge: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend
  13. A book from a viewpoint of a nonhuman: The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard
  14. A book with a song lyric in the title: The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo
  15. A book written by a male author the same age as you: Red Rising, by Pierce Brown
  16. A book of poetry written in the last ten years: Citizen, by Claudia Rankine
  17. A book set on another planet: The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi
  18. A book that become a movie: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
  19. A book published in 2018: How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays, by Alexander Chee

 

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge:

A book published posthumously: Unexpected Stories, by Octavia E. Butler

A book of true crime: The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, by Susan Orlean

A comic written and illustrated by the same person: Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson

A book about nature: Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, by Paul Greenberg

A western: The Cold Eye, by Laura Anne Gilman

A comic written or illustrated by a person of color: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Vol. 2, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A romance novel by or about a person of color: A Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev

A children’s classic published before 1990: Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

A celebrity memoir: The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher

An Oprah Book Club selection: Becoming, by Michelle Obama

A book of social science: Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande

A one-sitting book: Deer Woman: An Anthology, ed. by Elizabeth LaPensee and Weshoyot Alvitre

The first book in a new-to-you YA or MG series: So You Want to Be a Wizard, by Diane Duane

A scifi novel with a female protagonist by a female author: Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty

A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image: March: Book One, by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

A book of genre fiction in translation: Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada, trans. by Susan Bernofsky

A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ author: Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley

An essay anthology: All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, ed. by Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and Morenike Giwa Onaiwu

A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60: A Finely Knit Murder, by Sally Goldenbaum

I like the reading challenges because they push me to read outside my comfort zone, and am looking forward to nailing it for 2019. I read 108 books in 2018, and honestly, I’d like to scale that back a bit. My tentative goal is 75 for this year. I read hardly any short fiction in 2018 and have a huge backlog of e-mags to catch up on. Not sure if I’m going to count those in my reading log or not. Feels like I should since most of them are longer than the graphic novels and some novellas I counted last year.

Read harder, friends.

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2018 Awards Eligibility & What’s Next

Ok, first off, I finally did the thing and made an awards eligibility post for 2018 on Twitter, but I’ll briefly recap it here.

For short stories, I’d like people to consider “Earn Your Breath,” which appeared in ep. 294 at Cast of Wonders. This is my short story pushing back against all of the judgment and ignorant-but-well-intentioned ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ commentary I’ve received since I was a child about my lack of desire for kids of my own. You know, those “you’ll change your mind when you’re older” and “you’re not a real woman” kinds of comments.

I’m also in my second and last year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, for those of you who will be nominating for the Hugo ballot. Hugo nominations open in early 2019, and if you’d like to nominate you must join Worldcon by December 31st.

If there is any space on your ballots I would be grateful for any consideration.

Whew, ok, that part is over with (it’s really weird to plug yourself)!

Been a bit quiet here on the blog as I keep muddling around with what sort of content I want to put on it. I do plan to do a reading recap of some sort post at the end of the month or early in January. Trying to do two reading challenges wasn’t the best idea, partly because I did so much non-challenge reading this year. I’m going to come pretty close to finishing on both lists, but am not going to make it all the way on either.

But, I’m very intrigued by Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge list for 2019.

I’ll have some more writing news to share in the new year.

New Story + Where to Find Me This Summer

Big news! My #ownvoices short story about two fishkid siblings with differing views on adoption is up at Cicada Magazine! You should be able to read the story here.  Gentle reminder that though this is an #ownvoices story it is still a work of fiction. Also, I wrote this before my brother mentioned moving so that’s total coincidence 🙂

The 2018 SFWA Nebula Conference is coming up fast! It’s also my first time being on conference programming, so please excuse me while I flail about. My brief schedule is as follows:

Friday, May 18:

3:30 pm in Marquis C- The Joys and Hazards of Writing #ownvoices Fiction

5:00 pm in Marquis B- Language To Use When Writing and Speaking About Disability

I’ll be there all weekend and would love to meet up with my fellow SFF friends if you’re available.

From July 20-22, I’ll be on the programming for the Cascade Writers Three-Day intensive workshop in Tacoma, Washington. I’ll update when I have an idea of times/panels.

I’ve blogged about this org and the workshop in the past—it’s wonderful. It’s a smaller workshop that offers Milford-style critiques as well as both craft and business track programming. It’s a great way to build your writer community. Because of its smaller size, it’s easier to meet everyone and the vibe is a bit more relaxed. I found some of my critique partners here when I first attended back in 2015.

In August I’ll also be attending Worldcon 76 in San Jose. This will be my second Worldcon after previously attending Sasquan back in 2015. It’s a hugenormous convention and I’m excited to go and get my nerd on. Come say hi if you’re around!

Story News!

It’s alive, friends, “Earn Your Breath” is alive! Or rather, it’s “live” over at the wonderful Cast of Wonders. You can give it a read or a listen here. Look at that beautiful cover art by Geneva Benton!

I’m so excited and feeling all the feels over this story. It’s very near and dear to my heart, as a woman who has known practically since the womb that I don’t want to have children. There’s also an ass-kicking female lead, a knife fight, and platonic male/female friendship–all things I love. To everyone, but especially to women (and women-presenting), because I think we get pressured more than men on the whole “when are you/why don’t you have kids” thing (and all its variations), this story is for you.

So, a little history on how this story came to be. The rough draft for this was written back in March 2015. And, yea, lots of changes between the first draft and the final.

EYB pic

This story is a play on the simplistic writing advice “write what you know.” I’ve known since I was a kid that I don’t want to have children. I grew up listening to well-meaning adults tell me in a variety of ways that I’d change my mind once I was older. I haven’t. I dealt with people remarking that I wasn’t a “real” woman if I didn’t have children, people saying how they couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want them, people trying to lecture me because what if my future husband wanted kids? What a horrible girl I was, holding this hypothetical person back from something he apparently wanted.

So, I went forth into the world and made my intentions clear. I met my husband when I was eighteen, and I told him on our second date that if he ever wanted kids, if he thought he might ever want them someday, if he had the slightest hesitance because there was a shadow a of a “maybe” in the back of his mind, then we should break it off now. “We’re not getting any younger,” I said. “I’m never going to change my mind.” I was eighteen.

I wrote what I knew: a woman’s worth can be measured in more than just children.

I learned a lot in writing “Earn Your Breath,” and especially in the revising (very special thank you to Rachael K. Jones, for sending me the most encouraging personal rejection letter ever. I firmly believe that the story found a home because her pointed feedback made it stronger). It’s the second short story I’ve ever written, not counting little things written when I was a kid, and the first that I thought was a complete story. I’m very grateful it found a home with Cast of Wonders, and am honored that it gets to be a part of the Artemis Rising 4 issue.

Ibba Armancas does a wonderful job narrating it, and there’s a great discussion between the hosts of Breaking the Glass Slipper: Megan, Lucy, and Charlotte at the end of the podcast where they examine the strengths and weaknesses of the story. Please consider giving it a listen.

I head back out to Lake Quinault tomorrow for five days of writing in the rainforest at the Rainforest Writers Retreat. One of my goals while there is to get a reading recap post done since that’s something I’d like to do “consistently” (hahaha, consistency? Me? On this blog?).

And a last bit of news—my story “Fishkin,” an #ownvoices short story dealing with adoption and exploring what that means for an adoptee (who also happens to be a fish person because I’m a fish nerd and had to write a story with fish in it), is slated to come out in the May/June issue of Cicada Magazine.

Invisible 3 Cover Reveal!

Psst. My name is on a thing. Huge thank you to Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj for this opportunity. My essay on the representation of adoption in spec-fic will appear in the third installment of the Invisible anthologies, due out soon. Click the link to see the cover and list of contributors.

Invisible 3 Cover

My apologies that the blog has been a bit quiet as I have news I’m bursting to share but have to be vague on the details for now. I recently signed the contract for my first pro short story sale to a SFWA-accredited market! More details to come when I’m able to share them.

In photography news, I’ve been plugging along in both weekly themed challenges, but am lagging behind when it comes to the Dogwood one. I’m still behind on getting all the photos from my Yellowstone trip edited (and rather unmotivated since I hate processing).

Here’s a funky shot of one of my angelfish for the Bob Noble challenge. Week 21: Shoot something ordinary and make it extraordinary. Not sure it’s “extraordinary,” but I like how almost bug-eyed the fish looks from this head-on angle.

Week 21- Something Ordinary Made Extraordinary

Thoughts on Disability

Header image is my submission for Week 15- Hard, in the Dogwood52 Advanced challenge. Seemed fitting for this post.

I’m currently finishing the final season of Bones, and have a few thoughts on how it handles the disability of one of the main characters, so hopefully a blog post on that soon.

In the meantime, here’s a Storify of some thoughts I had on twitter about an article on ableism in writing and my able–>disabled perspective on one of the points.

Storify Link

Erm…ignore all the misuses of your instead of “you’re” *hangs head in shame*.

Onward to 2017

Took a look at my “resolutions” blog post from January, and thought I’d do a bit of a recap/goals for next year. As far as my resolutions for 2016 went…well, the blogging once a month almost made it. I think I missed twice, but also posted more than once a few times too. So, let’s call that one fulfilled.

The Writing Goals. I did succeed in having at least two short stories on sub at all times. Yay. As far as the whole, have an entire draft of the novel written and polished and out for querying. HAHAHA. I’m a sweet summer child. In fairness, I ended up scrapping the novel I’d started earlier this year, and started fresh in May. I’m almost finished with the last chapter in the second act, and according to my outline, Act 3 chugs right along. Not that the outline has changed…a lot…during the process… I wanted to have at least the second act finished by the end of the year, but I’ve been hit with a nasty cold/fever and there’d probably just be pages of characters sitting around being pissy that I’d have to fix in post. I wrote a tiny bit of flash, but that’s a goal that will carry over into next year.

Read More. I’ve read a lot more this last year than in previous years, I think. What I might do is start keeping a list of what I finish in 2017 so I have hard numbers to look back on. I have a ton of YA and novellas stockpiled, so 2017 might be the year to tackle those. I was terrible and didn’t do any reviews on goodreads…bad me. It feels kinda weird reviewing books of people I know/might know in the future. Fellow writers, do you have this issue? I need to make an account that doesn’t use my name.

Weight Goals. So, that was a total fail. Oh well. I think I gained two or three pounds over the last year. I think I also need to accept that the way I exercised in my teens doesn’t apply anymore. I’m not too down about this “failure” though because I’m not upset with how I look, and I’ve accepted that post-accident my activity levels can’t be the same. Also, I should probably eat out less. Should. Might. Maybe.

2016 was a great year in exploring my new hobby: photography. Had a blast on two big photo trips, both of which I covered earlier in the blog (wild horses in NC, and the Palouse). 2017 should also be an exciting year when it comes to photography. I have two trips already booked: Yellowstone in mid-January, and Norway in June. I’ve got some photography goals for next year which include two separate weekly themed challenges. Even though I petered out about halfway through the Dogwood52 2016 challenge, I am much more inspired by the “advanced” 2017 challenge list. I’ve also joined a second challenge run through facebook, put on my photographer Bob Noble. It looks a little more relaxed and personal than the Dogwood one since the group will be capped at 150 people (sitting at I think 110 now). As a way to try and stay motivated and keep the blog active, I’ll probably start doing roundups of the photos taken with notes about the images on the blog.

The writing goals from last year pretty much all carry over into this year. I’d like to do a few more writing-related posts. I’ve said before I’d “review” some of the online classes I’ve taken (Gotham, LitReactor, Cat Rambo), and I’d like to get those written. I’d also like to do a post on my slush reading experience (I’m a slush reader for Uncanny Magazine).

Hard to think about weight goals right now when things like breathing and swallowing hurts (curse you, cold) but I’m going to vary up the workout routine more, try and get some more HIIT workouts in, etc. Finding workout videos and routines I can do post-accident has been a process, but I’ve started doing more barre workouts and like them a lot.

Ok, this ended up being longer than I expected. Off to drown myself in tea. I leave you with my first photo for the Dogwood2017 challenge: tell a story using the Rule of Thirds compositional rule. Cogwheel loves watching the fish get fed. Thankfully, we’ve never had a cat that tried to go fishing (though both Beth and Cogwheel have fallen in).

week-1-rule-of-thirds

SIWC 2016 Recap

 

So, I gushed a bit after my first time attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference last year, which I blogged about here.

siwc

I still love this conference. As a second-time attendee, there was still a huge variety of workshops to choose from. Not each one was a winner, but I enjoyed the majority and would like to go back again. SIWC does a good job of having several recurring workshops as well as adding in new variety each year. This is a fun, inviting, professional conference that is certainly beginner-friendly. No matter what your skill level is, everyone there is welcoming and comes with a similar level of commitment to the craft.

Great keynotes all weekend long, kicked off by Canadian author Angie Abdou on Friday morning and followed by authors: Daniel Jose Older on Friday night, Jael Richardson on Saturday morning, Larry Brooks on Saturday night, Cat Rambo on Sunday morning, and closed out by literary agent Donald Maas at the Sunday luncheon. Food was fine, just like last year. I can be a bit of a picky eater but always found enough to eat in the buffet, plus the Sheraton’s restaurant is pretty good too (though pricey…it’s hotel food). I bought a full conference package which included lunch/dinner in the ballroom, but there was also a small snack bar set up near the room where the Blue Pencils and Pitches were held that sold coffee, bagels, pastries, etc.

SIWC has four sessions a day, each an hour and fifteen minutes long—great for having enough time for the presenters to go a bit deeper than 101 level and still have time for questions. Each session has 8-9 different workshops going on at once, so there’s plenty to choose from—both a good and a bad thing! If one workshop isn’t panning out, the conference encourages you to try one of the other ones. The Blue Pencils and Pitches run throughout the day all weekend so people are always quietly coming and going (thank you, door monitors) and it’s not awkward if you get up to leave.

siwc2

View from the hotel. I don’t think I left the building all weekend.

I had an informative pitch session with Moe Ferrara this year. I went in more for practice/experience than anything else since my novel isn’t complete, and I almost chickened out and canceled the pitch, but I’m glad I went through with it. Moe was great and gave me some tips on how to tighten up my phrasing, and invited me to send a query when the novel is finished.

I got in for a second Blue Pencil this year in addition to the one included with registration. You can try to get extra Pitches or Blue Pencils if there are openings with the presenters (I think there usually are), and I got in with Daniel Jose Older on the last day. My first Blue Pencil was with Cat Rambo, and both were great. You can bring a maximum of three pages to the critique session, which is only fifteen minutes long. I brought the beginning of a new short story and got some good feedback on how to mete out the backstory better, as well as some markets to approach when the story is ready. The fifteen minutes goes fast, but I’ve gotten valuable feedback within it—especially helpful in the beginning of a short story.

It’s a big conference, but I’ve made some amazing writing friends both years that I’ve gone. A real “finding my people” kind of event. It’s not inexpensive being a three-day conference, plus the convenience of staying in the hotel, though it being in Canadian currency does help. But, if you can afford to go, SIWC is a wonderful experience. Next year is the 25th anniversary! I wonder what they’ll have in store for us…

Cascade Writers 1-Day Recap

A bit late in writing my post on the Cascade Writers one-day workshop, The Business and Craft of Writing, that happened last weekend. I had a great time meeting up with some old friends and making new ones.

I like the one-day format because it’s a lot of information, but isn’t as draining as a 3 or 4-day workshop. Being within driving distance helps. We were fortunate to be graced with the presence of authors Spencer Ellsworth and Mark Henry, as well as agent Sara Megibow. They each offered something different to the workshop, which lent it a nice feeling of depth.

Admittedly, I primarily went for the opportunity to practice my pitch with Sara. It went pretty well, and she gave me some tips on how to focus my pitch better. This was interesting for me as she wanted pitches with a tighter focus than other “formulas” I’ve seen online that were more summarizing/broad. I still need to play around with it, and come up with a few versions/lengths for different circumstances.

The programming was great because I thought that Sara covered a lot of the business/publishing side (duh), which is in its own way more straight forward and no nonsense. As she put it, there are two circles in writing: the art of writing circle, and the business of publishing circle, and they cover distinct aspects of the process. I need to start reading more of the current releases in my genre. *looks mournfully at stack of new YA books*

Mark sort of bridged the gap between Sara and Spencer. His programming (to me) seemed more career/life-oriented, complete with war stories from his writing career thus far. He went over how to manage social media, ways to reach and keep your audience engaged, and in a sense how to not burn out when you reach that inevitable point. If only it were sunshine and roses after getting that initial acceptance, whether that’s an agent or a book deal or whatever.

Spencer covered more of the craft component, with sessions on pacing and dialogue, complete with handouts, a whiteboard presentation, and several film clips. I missed part of the dialogue session because my pitch appointment fell during it, but the pacing segment also included dialogue and how the two work together to progress the story. I liked this approach and the use of film clips because they were great visual examples expressing how good dialogue does what we want it to: reveal character, move the story forward, be entertaining, etc. That programming might be enough to tip me over the edge into watching The Wire. Maybe. Drug dramas aren’t really my thing. I watch Food Network for a reason.

An interesting part of this workshop was that we pretty much stayed together as a group the entire day. Meals were taken as a large group (20ish people) inside the hotel restaurant, which was nice…for the most part. I liked that we stayed together because it made it easier to chat with new friends and the speakers in a relaxed environment without people having to break off into tiny groups (again, for the most part. The hotel restaurant wasn’t really set up to accommodate all of us). The not-so-great part was that the La Quinta restaurant food, while ok, was served at a snail’s pace. It took so long for our lunch orders to come (and we were basically the only people eating at the hotel) that it threw the programming schedule off. Dinner was only marginally better, despite our group number going down as some people had left early.

Still, a fun and informative day. My novel is plugging along, though I don’t know if I’ll have a polished enough draft to submit to Sara, who graciously offered to take the first 50 pages if the manuscript is complete by June 1st.

Norwescon 39 Recap

Norwescon ribbons

My lowly assortment of con ribbons.

Norwescon 39 has come and gone, so here is my recap of a fun weekend. This was my first Norwescon, but hopefully not my last. There were more positives than negatives, though the negatives were aggravating. Thankfully (I guess?), most of the negatives happened right at the beginning and the con experience greatly improved once I got over those hurdles.

The main negatives: 1) Parking is atrocious. The lot at the DoubleTree isn’t small, but for a con with a few thousand people in attendance it doesn’t cut it. Being in Seattle that’s not surprising, but the hotel didn’t do anything to help the situation. The ticket booths to enter the lot were unmanned, so the poor souls that didn’t arrive early on opening day (I didn’t get there until 3pm) got to drive around for however long you could stand it until giving up or being fortunate enough to find someone leaving their spot. I get it, parking frustration isn’t a new thing, but it would’ve been nice if Doubletree had posted a staff member at the ticket booth either directing people away or putting signs up indicating the lot was full (they did start to put up signs later on during the weekend). Because the hotel is right next to the airport there was airport parking/garages available, which kinda sucks, since the con rate for parking at the hotel was $8, and parking at the airport garage was running somewhere in the $20+ range.

2) Registration at the hotel (not Norwescon reg) was super slow when I got in. This is really more on the hotel than Norwescon, since you’d think if the hotel knew thousands more people than usual would be in that weekend then it might be a good idea to have an extra person or two at the registration desk.

Again, not the end of the world or all that unexpected, but coming on the heels of the parking frustration, seeing the row of empty stations at the registration desk and the lone person trying to handle it all…

My #3 actually got fixed by the second day, but originally programming was scheduled up to the hour without a break. As in, panel A goes from 10-11, panel B from 11-12, etc. Without a break period, you’d have panels cutting into the subsequent panel’s time. At the end of each panel there’d be an awkward shuffle to get people out of the room and then to get people waiting in the narrow hall (that’s my #4 gripe) in, settled, get the speakers situated, etc. It really sucked for the authors’ who had readings where the panel before them ran over and ate into their reading time (usually 30min). This did get fixed though, and panels started ending at 10min to the hour.

4) Norwescon is so-so, in my opinion, on being accessibility-friendly. The big plus is that the elevators were decently sized, there were 4 of them, and they ran quickly. I never encountered long waits or broken elevators. The Doubletree in Spokane for Worldcon was a different story. However, the halls for the conference rooms where the panels were held weren’t very wide. I guess Norwescon can get away with it since attendance is only around the 2-3k mark, but there were times where the flow of traffic had to completely stop so that someone in a scooter or wheelchair could move forward because the halls weren’t wide enough to accommodate a lane of traffic moving in both directions.

There also wasn’t a lot of seating available if one needed to sit while waiting for their panel, and what seating there was could end up being a long way from the room where the panel you wanted to attend was located. I know there were volunteers running around, but I’ve been to cons in the past where each room has a door attendant who usually handles getting someone with accessibility needs into the room without fuss or fanfare. I didn’t really see that at Norwescon, but that’s not to say they weren’t around. I’m also not sure if people were issued accessibility badges or stickers or whatnot to access rooms ahead of time.

I went solo to Norwescon and am fortunate to be in a position where most of the accessibility issues don’t impact me anymore, but having been in the situation where they once did I tend to be sensitive/aware of them or the need. Norwescon isn’t the worst with regard to accessibility, but it isn’t the best either. Some of that isn’t its fault in a direct way; they can’t control the physical width of the hallways. But these are things to consider for non-able bodied people.

Now that I’ve ranted about all the negatives (oops. I’ll cut some of it down in post), Norwescon really is a fun con. I think of it as Worldcon Lite. Lots of programming dedicated to the many aspects of SFF fandom, writing, cosplay, etc. An eclectic mix in the Dealer’s Hall, and a nice-sized art show. It was great to be able to meet up with friends that I rarely see otherwise, and to meet some in person that I’d previously only conversed with via social media.

Oh, and the DoubleTree’s food is actually pretty good. Not inexpensive (not surprising), but tasty, and they re-worked some of the items on the menu to cater to attendees with dietary restrictions. Example: the roasted cauliflower soup apparently is normally a vegetarian option, but they made a vegan version for Norwescon. And it was good. Maybe the server who told us that was making it up, but considering that she went back to talk to the chef, I doubt it. Or bravo for going through the work to make up an elaborate story. Never did find out why the bread pudding wasn’t considered vegetarian though.

I mainly attended Norwescon for the Fairwood Writers’ Workshop, which was lovely. My critique session was Saturday night with Catherine Montrose, Elizabeth Guizzetti, Tim McDaniel, and Pat MacEwen. I submitted a short story for the workshop, and was selected for an individual critique. The critiques were held at the top of the DoubleTree tower in the Mountain conference rooms, which do have a few stairs down to the table, though they were quick to note this during the workshop registration process. I imagine accommodations are made if you can’t navigate stairs. Our only gripe about the room was that we couldn’t get the lights to go above what we were calling “mood lighting.” The other room didn’t seem to have that problem, but we managed just fine. It was light enough at 7pm to get by, and dim lighting is a better trade than getting roasted by the sun with all those windows.

The workshop was great from registration to the actual critique. The guidelines were clear, and the workshop was great with communication. They make accommodations so that you don’t get put in the same group for a round robin session with someone you’re already critiquing with outside the workshop if that applies.

My critique went well, and I’m all squeeing inside because overall my story was well-received and doesn’t need a complete rewrite. They gave suggestions for ways to tighten it up and other revisions, and it was pretty nice—and telling—that all four agreed on what the structural flaws were. Onward to revisions I go, and hopefully can get it out to markets in April.

The novel’s progress is steady if also a bit slow. I’m past the first act of the rough draft and wading into the soggy middle. I think I said last blog post that I was hoping to have a post about the novel/my writing quirks…well, maybe next month! It’s only a few days away after all.

I was able to get a crash course on pitching as Jennifer Brozek offered to teach a 2hr class for the workshop participants on Thursday night. My takeaway is that the cobbled together logline I had for the novel was actually decent, but my title needs work. Brozek is a big proponent of titles not being generic, and fulfilling a promise to the reader in that it tells a little something about what the book is about. So I need to work on that. I’ll be attending the one-day workshop hosted by Cascade Writers next month covering the business of writing and will be doing some more pitching there, so this was a nice starter.