Posts in Inspiration

Coming Full Circle: A Boskone Story (and Schedule)

The year is 2015. The place is Boston. The snow is everywhere. A younger version of me, wide-eyed with excitement, is sharing a hotel room with a writer friend and his girlfriend and checking out a con called Boskone. I am able to attend through the awesomeness that is Con or Bust – they had a last minute drop-out (likely due to all the snow) who donated their ticket to help a fan of color attend the con, and I took advantage. I had a secret goal to learn more about the Odyssey Writing Program, which my writer friend had already gotten in to, but aside from that, I just wanted to learn a few things.

By the end of that weekend, I had decided to apply to Odyssey, learned about the Stonecoast MFA program for the first time, met a ton of awesome people, discovered that tying plastic bags around your shoes to waterproof them does not work well on streets that slope to the side, and found that if you fall over enough times on the same sidewalk, a Good Samaritan may eventually offer you a ride the 2 blocks to the venue. But mostly I discovered that Boskone was awesome, and I set forth a goal to one day be one of the mystical and wise people on the programming who talked about their writing.

And lo, this day has come. I will be at Boskone this year, and I will be on the following panels:

Incorporating Cultures Into Fiction

Format: Panel
16 Feb 2018, Friday 17:00 – 18:00, Marina 3 (Westin)

In writing, it’s hard to navigate between inclusion and appropriation of a culture or cultural elements. But like it or hate it, people write what they know … or at least what they think they know. Complicating matters, the definitions of these two words are fuzzy for many. So, what is cultural appropriation? How do we incorporate cultures or aspects of cultures without crossing the line?

Name That Legendary Object

Format: Game Show
16 Feb 2018, Friday 19:00 – 20:00, Marina 2 (Westin)

Legendary objects of yore — from various worlds throughout the universe, and from myriad planes of existence — have been gathered together in anticipation of this special Boskonegame, for the entertainment and edification of the public. Our expert “historians” compete for the ultimate prize as they seek to identify these awesome articles, which may have once been owned by gods, heroes, villains … or the occasional ancient street sweeper. Audience participation is encouraged: bring your favorite enigmatic items to be identified by our adepts of the interdimensional.

Writing Workshops & MFA Programs Redux

Format: Panel
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 10:00 – 11:00, Marina 1 (Westin)

Thinking about attending a writing workshop or an MFA program? Wondering how to pick the one that’s right for you? Once you do: then what? There’s no magic formula to elicit an acceptance letter, but a solid application is a good place to start. Join representatives from various writing programs, and learn how to present the best of what you have to offer to win your place.

Saturday Night Special Event: Boskone Awards and Rapid-Fire Theater

Format: Event
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 20:00 – 22:00, Harbor II+III (Westin)

Saturday night’s presentation is a fast-paced theatrical extravaganza, featuring a set of mini-shows that resemble live-action podcasts (akin to a science fiction variety show with a short awards ceremony, an interview, a game show, and an original radio show with aliens).

9:30 p.m. — Boskone Radio Play: Boskone‘s Rapid-Fire Theater comes to an out-of-this-world conclusion with a short adapted radio play by Nat Segaloff about humanity’s first contact with aliens.

Women Who Write Science Fiction

Format: Panel
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Marina 3 (Westin)

Mary Shelley, Leigh Brackett, Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, N. K. Jemisin —  women have been in the thick of writing science fiction for a very long time. Let’s discuss some of their landmark publications that captured our imagination. Why do we love these stories? What works should we look for the next time we’re browsing the shelves?

I could not be happier – not only have I achieved my goal, but I get to be a part of an amazingly welcoming group of fans and writers, new friends and old. And this time I have boots. What could be better?

An Amazing Year

It’s been so fun to read everyone’s end of year eligibility for SFF awards posts this year. Personally, though, I’ve had nothing published in 2017. I’m off the hook (well, I’m Campbell-eligible, but probably very very unlikely to be nominated for that). But even though I’m not eligible, I think it’s good to state out loud how 2017 has been going for me as a writer. Because it’s been awesome!

I have officially finished all of the writing that I need to do to get my Stonecoast MFA – my thesis has been accepted. I still have a presentation to give and a reading to do, but the stories that I have spent the last 2 years of blood and sweat and tears on are done. One has already been sold (it will be in The Dark in 2018 – yayayay!), and one helped me win what is pretty much the greatest honor of my writing career so far, the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds Grant and Diverse Writers Grant. I applied thinking maybe maybe maybe I could get one of them, and somehow I won both. I knew this year that I would be focused much more on writing than on selling (though I tried to get a few flash pieces out to meet the 12 stories in 12 months challenge, it was ultimately too much for me by April/May), but even when you know you’re on a journey and nowhere near your destination, it means so much to see some heartfelt cheerleaders along the way.

But that’s not all! I have started to dip my toe into not only non-fiction (highlighted by a post on that let me go down the rabbit hole of dystopic fiction), but game writing (I’m working on a super fun Choice of Games project that is just what I need to lighten the mood when the stories I’m writing start seeming a little dire), and even slush reading (with the amazing folks at Escape Artists, where I’m an Escape Pod Associate Editor and was a Guest Associate Editor for Psuedopods Artemis Rising call, and my smart and deeply talented fellow students at the Stonecoast Review, where I was a Fiction and Non-Fiction Editor for issue #8). The number of incredible people that I get to work with all the time is pretty amazing.

At the end of the day, though this isn’t something that can be measured or linked to, one of my great joys of the year is that I really feel like part of the Speculative Fiction community now, which I absolutely love. I’ve gotten to speak on a few panels and give a talk, but more than that I’ve gotten to have conversations with fun, smart, engaging writers (and absorb all of their knowledge I possibly can). I’ll be going to a bunch of cons next year, starting with Boskone, and I’m already smiling thinking about it.

Finally, on a personal note, I got the amazing opportunity to travel to seven different countries this summer and try to absorb just a little bit of their setting and life so that I can think back on it when I’m trying to create worlds and cultures and people for my stories. I think that one of the best ways to put life on the page is to go out and live it, and I’m glad I had a chance to do that in a few beautiful places, even if I only got to know them for a brief moment in time.

Okay, enough bragging. Because it does feel like bragging. But writers as a whole (and I in particular) have a tendency to climb a mountain and then act like it was a molehill, to keep looking forward at where we want to go instead of looking and taking a deep breath and acknowledging where we’ve been. So here’s to the journey.

I can’t wait for 2018.



Five Things I Learned In The Last 10 Days

I have just returned to civilization after 10 days in Maine for my second residency (of five) in my low-res MFA program, where I’m specializing in popular fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, romance, horror, crime, mystery, etc.). It’s kind of like summer camp for writing nerds, and given all the insanity going on in the world right now, it was the perfect escape at the perfect time. There’s no way to really capture the experience, but I’m condensing all my Stonecoastian (that’s a word, right?) knowledge into THE five things I’ve learned and/or are taking with me until the next time I get to hang with my crazy awesome writer friends in Maine.

Drum roll please….

  1. Take risks. We had a whole seminar on risk-taking in fiction, but where I really saw this in action was during our student readings. Everyone gets the opportunity to read their work for 3 minutes, and most of us take it. Some are confident readers, some are nervous as hell, some stare down at cell phone screens and pray nobody calls for the next 3 minutes, some grip papers tightly in their hands. All are brave and inspiring. I loved how as the open mic kept going and nobody was booed off of the stage and/or burst into flames, more people tried to sign up for the last few open slots. Risk-taking. It’s contagious.
  2. Workshopping stories is THE BEST. I love being workshopped. Maybe I was brainwashed by my incredible Odyssey experience last summer, but there’s something so fun to me about seeing what people saw in your story, for good or for bad. As always, had two stories workshopped this go-round. Things I learned about them – it’s probably good to earn your endings, popular fiction students will see through your handwavium technology, and genocide is a downer. Can’t wait to dive back into these stories and get them up to shape and out to market.
  3. I want to be AllTheStonecoastProfessors when I grow up. Every night, we got to hear 3 or 4 of our teachers read from their work for 10 minutes. OMG. Talk about something to aspire to. Not sure how to really summarize the experience except to say, in the words of an old NYC TV commercial, “I laughed! I cried! It was better than Cats!”
  4. Our graduations are the rockingest. I’m not talking about the graduation party, though any group that turns out to the floor en masse for the Time Warp is filled with my kind of people. The graduation itself is just special. In maybe an hour, we were welcomed to the Republic of Poetry, asked to re-examine the blank page, and reminded to “stay gross” and always be who we are. Each time, I know the graduating class better and cry a little more, so I will probably just be a puddle with a cap on by the time I graduate, but it will totally be worth it.
  5. Community matters. One of the reason I love Stonecoast is that we all care about each other. It’s a heavy time in the world and there are always things happening in people’s lives outside of the program, but being at Stonecoast is like being wrapped in some sort of giant comforting creative hug of understanding. We stay up the extra hour to see how a friend is doing. We let the introverts have their time away. We dance into the night like we’re made of pure joy. We work together to make our writing better, to figure out what we’re each trying to say, and amplify each other’s voices.

I can’t wait until next time!

Writing Inspiration

The Writing Excuses podcast has me thinking about inspiration – it’s everywhere. In a tumblr post, in a conversation, in the items at a thrift store visit. Here are a couple of the things inspiring me right now…