New Year, New U(SA)

2021. You have already worn out your welcome.

I hoped to write this post with the optimism of a new year spread out before me—before all of us—but that is now forever overshadowed by the unconscionable, premeditated actions of January 6th; the cascade of failures that preceded them; and the sheer amount of work it will take to claw back our country from the brink. The fact that such a reckoning was inevitable thanks to our craven and in some cases treasonous lawmakers makes it hurt no less. There is no normal to return to. Only the work and a promise we must all make to never let us fall so far again. I hope we are up to the challenge.

My writing has certainly been affected by the last few months, and while I had gained some momentum at the end of last year, I now fear sliding back into days crippled by anxiety and anger that my fellow Americans could be so callous with our collective future. But as I alluded to in a previous post, I’m still here. I’m still writing, even if it’s more of a struggle now than it ever was. That has to count. It must count. And it is up to me to make it so.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though it does feel weird to say that. End of last year I had the opportunity to share all the books and video games that got me through 2020 for Fantasy Book Critic as well as a couple I’m looking forward to this year. Check out the post for my recs in case we need a survival guide for 2021 as well!

I also had the opportunity to do a panel with SF/F giant and SFWA grandmaster Connie Willis celebrating her latest Christmas story “Take a Look at the Five and Ten” published in the Nov/Dec issue of Asimov’s as well as from Subterranean Press. Following her reading, we had a fantastic conversation featuring Willis, her daughter Cordelia, fellow writer Jamie Krakover, as well as Albuquerque-area fans Craig Chrissinger, Jessica Coyle, and Mandy Self. Hope you check it out!

In the meantime, stay healthy, stay strong, and keep an eye on the horizon.

Introducing the Winner of LERA’S 2020 The Writer Contest

2020 has been quite a ride as well as an affront to science and the social contract.

But one thing that came as a surprise pleasure was my work as a final judge in my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter’s annual contest The Writer. Every year, LERA (the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) invites authors to send in the first 5,000 words of their manuscript. Any romantic subgenre, any heat level. After entries are scored in the initial round, final judges select which of the top-scoring finalists they’d liked to mentor in anticipation of revising the contest entry for the final round. I selected Hartley Gray to work with, and I’m so pleased to announce that she has gone on to win LERA’s 2020 The Writer contest!

Her entry “A Simple Plan” is a delightfully fluffy F/F contemporary romcom, and was just the thing to get me out of a rut from quarantine and QAnon conspiracies. As we got into the swing of our weekly mentoring sessions, we discovered we had a lot of similar values and goals from the writing life as well, so that was another unexpected pleasure from this experience. I never had to question that I was giving her the right advice because her writing priorities were already very much like my own. It also helped reinforce some of the things I have been lax on doing for myself as well, reenergizing me and what I want to accomplish with my own writing. All this to say, I initially feared the contest mentoring experience would be just another demand on my time in an already-draining pandemic year, but thankfully I found quite the opposite!

Harley is a fantastic writer, and I’m certain we’ll see more of her as she continues on her writing journey! Be sure to check out her website or visit her on Instagram!

Bubonicon 2020 Recap!

This past weekend was the very first virtual Bubonicon, and I was thrilled to take part in two panels.

First up, I had the pleasure of moderating the Writing 101 panel with Bubonicon Guest of Honor Keith R.A. DeCandido and SF/F luminaries Susan R. Matthews, Walter Jon Williams, Connie Willis. It was a great conversation about how to get started writing your story idea:

 

I also got to participate in the Mythology and Gods in Fiction panel moderated by Rebecca Roanhorse alongside Reese Hogan and Bubonicon Guests Keith R.A. DeCandido and Chaz Kemp. It was a really enjoyable discussion:

The rest of the day of panels can be found on the convention’s YouTube page.

Bubonicon 2020

Bubonicon – New Mexico’s science fiction and fantasy convention – is going virtual this year!

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And it all goes down this Saturday:  – .

You’ll be able to follow along via the Bubonicon website with links to panels on Facebook and YouTube. Day of, there will be information how to attend the live sessions with signup/passwords on the Bubonicon website if you want to be able to ask the panelists questions. Everything is free of charge, and the panels will be available online after the event as well if you don’t want to attend live.

I’ve already recorded a Writing 101 panel where I moderated Connie Willis, Walter Jon Williams, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Susan R. Matthews, and it was a great discussion on how to get started writing your story idea.

This Saturday at 12:30pm, I’ll be participating in a live session with Rebecca Roanhorse, Reese Hogan, Keith R.A. Decandido, and Chaz Kemp where we’ll be talking Gods and Mythology.

It sounds like the rest of the panels will be announced the day of, so be sure to keep an eye on the Bubonicon website. Hope to “see” you there!

Pandem(ic)onium

What is there to say at this point?

We were warned. We were given numerous explanations what the novel coronavirus could do. Nevertheless, our country has persisted in harmful policies and inconsistent measures that have set us back months if not years and decades in the fight not just against the pandemic but our standing in the free world.

It’s a lot to deal with on a day-to-day basis, and I’m very grateful my family has remained so far healthy and secure in these difficult times. But I’m not immune to the psychic toll of the upheaval on so many intersecting fronts, calling into question countless aspects of American life. Writing has been hard, with good days and many bad. I have to remind myself of something I said in an interview once:

“To be a writer—knowing the odds and the time it takes to build a career after getting a foot in the door—you have to be both persistent and audacious. Sometimes that means being persistently audacious and audaciously persistent as well. You have to keep going when it gets hard. And the audacious part is to always believe your words will matter, regardless of how long it takes to get them out there.”

So that’s where I’m at. I’m writing (if not as robustly as before), but it’s hard with so many things in flux. If the new ideas I have percolating are any indication, my capacity to be audacious remains undaunted even if my persistence has waned in the face of so much uncertainty.

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But tomorrow is another day. Let’s meet it together.