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Buried Treasure

My guest room is a mess.  Every surface is covered with piles of papers, notebooks, magazines, and miscellaneous odds & ends.  That wasn’t the plan:  the plan was for me to take my house reorganizing and culling in small, bite-sized portions.  I was really only planning to sort through one, maybe two boxes this month.

But the next thing I knew, I’d pulled out several storage bins and boxes, some of which I had never unpacked from our move five (!) years ago.  If I was going to tackle papers, my thought process went, I was going to tackle them all at once.

So now I’ve spent a couple of evenings picking through high school report cards, preschool workbooks my parents had kept and passed along to me, college notebooks, sketchbooks…and old writing notebooks.

old notebooks
Magic Eye, Lisa Frank, and shiny chrome robot unicorns…I am definitely dating myself.

It’s a general rule of thumb that writers shouldn’t toss their old writings.  You never know when you’ll stumble on some useful nugget or old idea that could spark something new.  Everything gets tossed into the bubbling stew pot that is a writer’s imagination, so we can let it simmer for a bit and then pick up our ladles and go fishing for that perfect morsel.

So far, the sentimental poetry, awkward sentences, and poorly-constructed worlds of my teen years are inspiring more embarrassment than fresh new ideas.  Still, it’s a fun walk down Memory Lane, watching myself try to figure out this whole Writing Thing.  And there are moments when the light shines through.

There’s an old writer’s adage (usually attributed to Ray Bradbury) that goes “The first million words don’t count.”  It’s a helpful reminder when I think of all the time and effort I’ve put into stories that I tossed in the trunk and never touched again.  There’s a lot of writing that never sees the light of day but is still us learning and practicing our craft, slowly getting better until we finally start writing things that aren’t half bad.

I don’t know when I reached a literal million words, but I do know that the writings in these notebooks were me keeping at it, slowly getting better:  sometimes stumbling, sometimes sitting for a long time but getting up anyway and trying again.  I’d forgotten about a lot of these early poems and barely-started teenage novels, but they’re there, all bricks in the road getting me to where I am now.

I guess this is just me saying that I’m glad for the journey, and glad that my younger self persisted.

Navigating by Starlight

The Storyteller arrives before dawn.  The world is still dark, and the room empty, but full of anticipation.  She lights a fire in the hearth, sets out the seating, dusts the tables and sweeps the floor.  She ponders, briefly, painting the walls, but decides to leave them as they are.  She puts the kettle on for tea.

The story goes, we writers are reclusive sorts. The stereotypes keep us in cold attics or studio apartments or remote cabins in obscure woods. There may be some truth to that: writing is a notoriously solitary art, and we all need that “room of one’s own,” as Virginia Woolf so famously put it. But now, our computers and laptops come with us up into the attic, and remote cabins are hooked up with wifi. And we do have a habit of making words if we’re given a page to put them on–even if the page is virtual. Continue reading “Navigating by Starlight”

Going to the Nebulas!

Hey everyone, guess who has two thumbs and is going to be attending the SFWA Nebula Conference?

This writer!  . . . And also many other people.  In fact, I’m going to venture a guess that there will be many two-thumbed people this weekend attending the Nebulas.

They will also, in large part, be fellow SFF writers, editors, publishers, industry vets, etc. and I cannot wait to meet them and hear what they have to talk about. Continue reading “Going to the Nebulas!”

Zombies, Cats, and Other Nonsense

Hey everyone, if you’ve been looking for a new story to fill that zombie-shaped hole in your life, have I got a treat for you!  “Why I’m Asking for an Extension on My Paper” is now available on the Cast of Wonders podcast for your reading and/or listening pleasure!

If you’re looking for a new story to fill that zombie-shaped hole in your wall, though, I recommend using drywall instead.

This story has something for everyone!  Zombies, genies, cats, mysterious little girls, term papers. . . .No fairies, though, because that would just be silly.  There are definitely no fairies in this story.  Probably.

New Story in Triangulation!

Well, I’m back from Confluence and I’m excited to show you what I saw there!  Yep, it’s the 2016 Triangulation anthology, Triangulation: Beneath the Surface!  And included in these pages is my story “The Evening Path,” my first story to actually appear in a physical copy 🙂  You can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to hold it in my hands! Continue reading “New Story in Triangulation!”

Confluence 2016

Confluence update, and an upcoming short story

Confluence Haul 2015
Last year’s Confluence haul: six books, an art print, a filk CD, and a zine of SFF poetry.

Hey everyone, welcome to my new site!  It’s a work in progress so please pardon the construction dust.

This weekend, July 29-31, I’ll be attending Confluence, Pittsburgh’s local Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention.  I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of great people, attending some panels, and–of course–buying lots of books!  If you’re in the area, come check it out.  If you’re a fan or creator of speculative fiction in books, movies, and art, this is the conference for you! Continue reading “Confluence 2016”