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.

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On Brain Weasels and Doubt Roaches and Writing “The End”

Time really does fly, doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday I was wondering how it could possibly be 2019 already, and now the year is on the downswing, the way out, already half over. It’ll be July in a few short days! How?!?!?

We’ll be having our first guests in our new home soon–family members stopping in on the way to Miami and a cruise–which will be wonderful. And shortly after that, I’ll be heading to Dublin, Ireland, for my very first WorldCon! I’m very excited–not only for the convention, but also to see so many online friends  and acquaintances in person, and some dear friends in person, too! Of course, it’ll be great to see the city of Dublin, where I’ve never been. Especially since it means exchanging Orlando’s August weather for Dublin’s August weather; I’ve never been so excited to wear full-length jeans before!

In writing news, I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel, and I’m slowing down. Partly in fear (oh don’t mess it up now!), partly in anticipation (oh this is so exciting! the climactic scenes are tense and tight, a joy I don’t want to rush!), and partly because finishing means I need to start editing the mess into something more resembling a novel, and–yep, you guessed it–I’m just stalling. At least I know this, and am forcing myself to have it finished before next week is out.

It was supposed to be finished by the end of this week…but here it is Friday and I’m not done. Dasher had a really horrible early part of the week, with clusters of seizures over the weekend, and another episode on Monday–this time a focal seizure, where the only symptom is a facial tic. Poor Dasher’s nose and eyes twitched, rather violently at times, for a long, long while. I held him and soothed him and kept him in a darkened room, then stayed near in case it was just the first in another cluster of seizures. Fortunately, it was a stand-alone. This time.

That said, lack of sleep (when he’s having clusters like this, if I hear even a tiny sound at night, I’m suddenly wide awake, expecting it to be another seizure) took its toll, and for a couple days I just couldn’t write a word. I’d stare at the computer, feeling dull, and squint my eyes at the bright dazzle of the screen. Ugh. Not a good way to write the climax of the novel you’ve spent a year on!

So now I’m feeling it again–awake, aware, and eager to write. Mostly. But the longer it takes to type “The End,” the more the Brain Weasels feed me a diet of Doubt.

Coincidently, I’ve been reading the perfect book to combat all this nonsense in my brain. It’s “The Writer’s Book of Doubt,” by Aidan Doyle. A writer himself, editor Aidan Doyle has gathered essays from other writers, and written many himself, on the various ways we manage to Doubt–ourselves, our abilities, even our desire or need to write–and combined them into this book, illustrated with fun line drawings that perfectly capture each essay’s meaning.

Not every essay rang with a pure clarion call for me, but enough certainly have that I’ve found it well worth my time to keep reading! I’ve taken some of the advice and created, for example, my very own Awesomeness Dossier. Even making that made me feel better! Whether your doubt nibbles or cripples, I’d suggest giving this book a look.

And with that, I need to get back. “The End” won’t type itself. And even after that, there’s a whole mess of editing to start.

 

Posted in conventions, Personal Life, the dog, Writing | 4 Comments

Whew!

Well, the transition is over. We are moved out of our previous home, and all our things–both those we stashed in a Pod for showing, and the stuff from the mover’s truck–are in our new house, albeit much still in boxes stacked haphazardly in various spaces. We’re updating the lighting and fans and such things even as we attempt to unpack and put things away, which means everything is going more slowly than we’d like. But it’s going, it’s getting done, and everything we’re updating is delighting us that much more.

And of course, let’s not forget that we have to find various types of doctors, a vet, a chiropractor (sooner rather than later after that Pod!), the good stores to shop at, banks, and two types of pharmacy, and also explore parks and dog parks, cook, clean, cut grass, figure out trash days–basically, live a normal life. Or, well, whatever passes for “normal” in this house, at least.

The Pod got delivered yesterday, and though my back is aching today, the whole thing is cleaned out, ready to be picked up again and carried away. Dasher the dog is in dog-heaven, because he just got a delivery of all the toys that went away before the showing. He’s been carrying around his lemon-head toy, leapt into the pool yesterday again and again for his favorite old frisbee, and fell asleep last night still holding his long squeaky snake toy, which he’d been dragging around like a true prize. All is well on the canine front!

And on the orchid front, as well. My oh my, who knew that just a wee bit south, the orchids just don’t need me to do anything–other than not thoroughly abuse them–in order to flourish. They are thriving on this new location, growing like literal weeds and looking lush and gorgeous. A few are newly in spike, and one that was spiking as we moved (and oh, didn’t that make me nervous, moving that big, spiked orchid; I was so afraid I’d break off that flower spike!) is about ready to burst open. I promise I’ll post pics soon, although they might hit Twitter first.

My new office is wonderful, and after the bedroom where we sleep, it was the first room set up. My novel is up on the wall, 3×5 cards showing the scenes left to write. And I’ve been writing here. It’s a perfect space, and I love it. Let’s hope my writing loves it, too!

And with that, I gotta run. More writing to be written, more packed things to unpack, and  yes, a vet appointment for Dasher to meet his new doctors.

Happy Summer!

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Moving, Personal Life, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Moving Blues

Oh my word! The stresses of trying to make your house look like a hotel where no one permanently lives, kept clean by an entire staff, while you actually live there and have no staff but yourself.  While also trying to manage a dog with seizures who is undergoing yet another medical procedure. And, oh yeah–write a book!

As you might have guessed, we’re moving. Again.

Southward, once more. To the Orlando area. I’m excited about some new opportunities, but I’ll be very sad to see the end of many things I’ve loved here. Not only the yard that I’ve transformed into a veritable paradise (to me, at least), filled with fruit and scent and bloom, but the neighbors we have here, and the places we’ve come to love, our beloved solar panels, and the wildlife in this area, too.

Just last evening, we discovered that the owlet on the esplanade is actually one of a pair of owlets! We heard, then saw, them both, cree-ing piteously as dusk settled in under the laurel and live oaks, bobbing their heads and craning their necks as they flapped vigorously, strengthening those wings for the glories of future flights. And the hummingbirds are returning in force to the feeders here, and starting to battle for the feeder territory.

We’re in contract on both ends–selling this home, and buying the new one. But oh my word! (yes, I’m repeating myself. but it deserves repetition; these last few days have been stressful!) Realtors, and unrealistic clauses, and inspections, and deadlines, and so very many phone calls, texts, emails, and voice-messages! It’s like a horror novel that never really took off, but merely devolved into a more ridiculous angsty dread with every passing moment, and no real plot to speak of because things move at both a snail’s pace and with ever-increasing speed at the same time.

All this is to say: well, don’t expect to see much of me around these parts until after June begins. At that time, I’ll be coming to you–with any luck and with the appropriate sacrifices to the various gods of moving, whomever they may be–from the Orlando area. Ensconced in a new office. And with a dog fully recovered from his latest batch of medical stuff.

Wish me luck!

Posted in Moving, Nature, Personal Life, the dog | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Curious Fictions

I want to let you know about an opportunity I’m thinking about over at the Curious Fictions platform, on my personal author space. Click the link, then click “Posts” and you’ll see that I’m thinking about expanding my presence there, and I’m asking for thoughts on what readers there would like to see.

If you want to join the readership at Curious Fictions, I’d be glad to see you. Even if you don’t, do check out the site–there are some amazing authors there, posting some awesome work.

Posted in blogging, Curious Fictions | Tagged ,

“Cold Currents” gets a Review

Locus Magazine short fiction reviewer Karen Burnham took a look at the January edition of Abyss & Apex Magazine, wherein my flash fiction story, “Cold Currents,” is published. I’m really pleased to say it was one of three stories that stood out enough for her to review. (It’s in the print edition on pg 40)

The highlight of the review states my story is “an intense piece of flash fiction” and that “The rapidly evolving sensations from [the narrator’s] POV make good use of the short format.”

As you can guess, this delights me. I’m also pleased to pass along kudos to this edition’s other two authors and stories favorably reviewed here: “Exactly What You Need” by Brandon Crilly, and “Adrift” by Wayne Martin. Go give them a read!

Posted in review, Writing | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Definitely Spring!

Yes, I know the calendar told us that the first day of spring has just passed, but I’ve been seeing so much spring around here lately, and it’s awesome, so I’m gonna share!

The plum tree is covered in gumball-sized fruits of dull, celery green, and the new blueberry bushes are awash with clusters of greenish fruit, as well. The earliest loquats are now ripe, with more changing from greenish-yellow to golden orange every day. In the veggie garden, while the recent cooler weather has not been to my sulking tomatoes’ liking, the carrots and onions are thriving!

We’ve spotted our first hummingbirds, out at the purple-flowering sage in the front, and within an hour I had both hummingbird feeders out (I haven’t spotted any takers, yet, despite the chill temps early in the mornings). And Cedar Waxwings are swarming the holly tree outside my dining room window (and every berry-holding tree in the neighborhood honestly), swallowing down every ripe berry they can coax off the branches, fueling their trips further northwards.

And finally, how about the bigger wildlife?

Let’s start with Dasher. He adores sleeping in the sunbeams, as you know. I move soft bed out into the lanai and he takes a toy (or four) out with him, a security blanket to hold in his mouth as he dozes contentedly. Here’s his toy-of-choice yesterday:

Yes, he chose to wrestle that gator into submission, and looked quite comfortable holding it helpless in his so-powerful jaws! (snort, snert!)

And then, my sister (visiting from Ohio) and I went out to Payne’s Prairie to check out the scene. There was the owl, visible high in the live oak near the entrance, and even a fluffy chic, just as big as the parent but still incapable of flight, near the very top, basking in a sunbeam! (too high up; my pics turned out terrible–use your imagination???)

We proceeded to the boardwalk, where we were met with this:

Click to em-biggen any of these photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right–a momma gator and her brood. At first, it looked like only 3, then 5. Then we managed to count 7, then 12–and then we saw more underneath the boardwalk, and some on the other side… In short, I have no idea how many baby gators were there. But momma knew. A wading bird came near and she moved, threatening it until it flew off, looking for a cheaper meal. And we heard the babies give their little beeping cries now and again. While I’d been hoping to see some gators, I never expected this! And never this close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were other treasures too–an anhinga, sunbathing so close we could almost touch it. And loads of snakes of various stripes: garter snakes, water moccasins, brown water snakes. Rails and moorhens and egrets and herons and red-winged mockingbirds and…yeah, we went back to stare some more at the baby gators. They were the stars of the day.

Looking out at Payne’s Prairie from a small rise.

Not headless, but looking below it into the water! See the orange beak near the top of the tail, to the left?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Nature, the dog | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2019 Nebula Nominees

Congratulations to the latest Nebula Award nominees. Since I’m a member of SFWA now, I was able to nominate, and it’s a real thrill to see some of my nominees on this list. Congrats to all!

2018 Nebula Award Finalists

 

Novel

The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)

Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)

Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)

Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)

Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

 

Novella

Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)

The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)

The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)

Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)

Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

 

Novelette

The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)

“An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)

“The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)

“The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)

“Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

 

Short Story

“Interview for the End of the World”, Rhett C. Bruno (Bridge Across the Stars)

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)

“Going Dark”, Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear)

“And Yet”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 3-4/18)

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/6/18)

“The Court Magician”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 1/18)

 

Game Writing

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)

The Road to Canterbury, Kate Heartfield  (Choice of Games)

God of War, Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog, Orion Walker, and Adam Dolin (Santa Monica Studio/Sony/Interactive Entertainment)

Rent-A-Vice, Natalia Theodoridou (Choice of Games)

The Martian Job, M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)

 

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy”, Written by: Megan Amram

Black Panther, Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

A Quiet Place, Screenplay by: John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Screenplay by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman

Dirty Computer, Written by: Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning

Sorry to Bother You, Written by: Boots Riley

 

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult
Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)

Aru Shah and the End of Time, Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents)

A Light in the Dark, A.K. DuBoff (BDL)

Tess of the Road, Rachel Hartman (Random House)

Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)

Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, Henry Lien (Henry Holt)

Posted in Writing