The Return of Con Season

The year is 2023. The place is Boston, MA.

For the first time since 2020, BOTH of our winter conventions (Arisia and Boskone) have happened in person.

I expected to feel ambivalent. I expected to feel somewhat cheated of a normal con experience. I expected to feel stressed out and anxious about the COVID risks. To my surprise and delight, none of that came to pass.

A white author in a tweed cap reads from a book, whose title is obscured
That’s me, at the Broad Universe reading. Photo by Randee Dawn

Arisia was an absolute delight. I helped run the Broad Universe table in the dealer’s room! I was on a panel! I ran a fiber arts circle! I participated in the Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading! It’s always such a joy to hear snippets of everyone else’s writing. I loved being able to spend time with my fellow Broads again. That has long been the highlight of my convention experiences, and it felt so good to sink back into community.

Beyond all of that, this Arisia was very special to me – it’s the first convention where I’ve had books to sell! When Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse came out in April 2020, I couldn’t wait to get to Readercon in July to show off my very first publication in a physical anthology. But we all know how 2020 went – my wait turned out to be a teensy bit longer than expected. By the time that Broad Universe was able to to host a table again, I had a second story out, in Modern Magic.

Having physical books to sell at the convention was every bit as gratifying as I had imagined.

Boskone was much more low-key for me. I wasn’t able to attend the whole weekend, so I went for a single day, just as a participant. But that single day was lovely. I brought along a friend who had never been to the con before, and very much enjoyed showing her around, and I still managed to hang out with the Broads, even though I wasn’t officially at the table.

Overall, I am very pleased with how well Boston’s winter conventions have bounced back. Arisia was smaller and quieter than in past years, but that was okay. After being isolated for so long, I don’t know that I would have been able to cope with the level of chaos from past years! And Boskone felt normal to me.

I have missed community so much these last few years, and getting back to these conventions filled a well that had been drained almost dry. I am so very, very grateful to the organizers and volunteers who made these events possible. And next year, I’ll definitely plan ahead to fully attend both! In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until Readercon.


New Anthology Alert: Modern Magic!

Book cover of Modern Magic showing a white woman in a bathing suit from behind. She is holding a pendant in her hands

Exciting news, my friends! There’s a new anthology out, with a story by yours truly! Modern Magic is a collection of tales about folks stumbling on a bit of magic in worlds otherwise identical to our own. As a huge fan of contemporary fantasy, I couldn’t resist the lure of that theme, and can you really blame me?

My story, “Melting Snow,” is about a man deep in grief. When he finds a magical trinket among his late wife’s things, it gives him a convenient way to avoid his feelings. This is probably the least dialogue heavy story that I’ve written to date, which let me stretch my writing muscles in new ways. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

As a note for my fellow writers, Knight Writing Press was lovely to work with. Sam Knight kept us thoroughly in the loop about developments with the anthology, and was impressively responsive to email. It’s worth checking out the list of open calls for upcoming anthologies.

I’m thrilled to have another story out there, and just in time for the holiday season. I hope you’ll check it out!

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, or Good Things Still Happen

As you may have seen on twitter, Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, featuring my short story, “A Witch for the Chrome Furies,” is out! It’s been out for almost a month now, actually. Even in paperback!

This is a weird time to have something good going on.

It’s not that I think it’s frivolous to think about books at a time like this – personally, reading is the only thing getting me through some days, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I want to hear all about what new books are coming out, and what older books people are digging up. Now is the time for more books!

And it’s not that I don’t think I have a right to be happy when bad things are going on in the world. Sadly, there is almost always some horrible slaughter or human rights violation going on somewhere, and while it’s important to stay engaged and aware of that, we can’t wait for the world to be fixed. Happiness has to exist next to despair, or we’re all sunk.

I think I just don’t have the stamina to be excited for very long.

When my author copy of Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse arrived in the mail last week, I was over the moon! The cover is even more vibrant in person, and I picked up on all sorts of details that I hadn’t noticed on my computer screen. And the inside of the book has the most adorable drawings of cats wearing hats and/or goggles between some of the stories. It was absolutely amazing to hold it in my hands, and I get a little frisson of pleasure every time I see it.

But I never even posted to Twitter about having gotten the book. I’m not embarrassed to be promoting this anthology. I just forgot. My excitement keeps getting buried under the weight of Everything Going On In The World Right Now.

I imagine this is happening to a lot of people right now, and for a lot of reasons. To a certain extent, it’s probably unavoidable, given our ambient stress levels. But I also think it’s important that we do our best to hold onto joy and excitement when we can. The world is dark, so we owe it to ourselves – and to everyone else – to create and reflect as much light as comes our way.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Getting in the Zone

May 6 question – Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Truthfully, the best way for me to get into the zone is writing with other people. Under normal circumstances, one of my favorite things to do it to meet up with a writing friend at a cafe, catch up over pastries and beverages, and then settle in for a nice writing session. Since both sitting in cafes and socializing is canceled for the foreseeable future, I have had to compromise.

Zoom is currently the best tool in my arsenal. I’ve been meeting up with one of my regular writing buddies almost every week, and Cat Rambo has been hosting writing sessions on Zoom for her Patreon supporters and members of her Discord community since the pandemic began. They are well-attended, and it’s nice to see the same faces on a regular basis. She’s set up a really nice format for the medium, and it’s a great community! It doesn’t always get me all the way into “the zone,” but it’s 1.5 hours of writing time that I would not have otherwise managed, which is pretty darn good, especially right now. While I would prefer to be in my favorite cafe, these writing sessions are the next best thing.

Other news

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse is out! My physical copy arrived in the mail on Monday, and it’s absolutely beautiful. This is my first anthology publication, and the first time I have seen my fiction in hard copy. It’s been a strange experience, to have this happen during a pandemic, but it’s a weirdly appropriate time for a book of semi-hopeful stories about the end of the world.

How are you all doing? I’m looking forward to reading some of the answers to this month’s ISWG question from other people! Maybe it’ll give me the inspiration to create a decent writing ritual of my own.

The Cats Story Bundle

Exciting news! My short story, “A Witch for the Chrome Furies” has been published in Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse! Right now, the anthology is only available as part of The Cats! Bundle, but it will eventually come to exist as an individual ebook and in hard copy.

What can you expect from Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse?

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse riffs off of the trope of a lone hero wandering through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with his loyal hound. Here, we see women taking control of their destinies and making choices to build a better future out of chaos. These stories are as much about relationships – between women and their cats, but also between and within communities – as they are about grim determination. When we were writing these stories, none of us knew how very timely the anthology would become, but we need stories of hope and survival and community right now.

Who wouldn’t want ten different cat books?

But even beyond my obviously biased favorite, this book bundle is a great value. You get ten different ebooks that feature cats, in a variety of genres, touching on romance, mystery, speculative fiction, and straight contemporary fiction. If you forgot to stock up on books before life turned topsy turvy, this would be an easy way to get new reading material into your hands without having to wait for shipping.

This bundle is just so. Many. Books. And so many cats! This is a particularly good deal if you like short stories, as seven of the ten books included are anthologies or short story collections. Sometimes, shorter fiction can be good for times when the real world is a little too high stress, since any fictional conflict will be resolved pretty quickly. But if you’d rather really sink yourself into a single world, the cat bundle still has you covered, with an entire twisted fairy tale romance trilogy, and two different murder mysteries.

Feel better about the world by contributing to charity!

The book bundle also let’s you contribute to a good cause. This bundle gives you the option to donate part of your payment to Ablegamers, a charity that helps people with disabilities to get custom controllers and other assistive hardware, so they can play video games. If there’s one thing that I hope we have all learned from the current pandemic, it’s that video games and other forms of entertainment are necessary outlets for mental health. Videogames can also be powerful tools to combat social isolation. Those of us who are able-bodied are only going to be isolated for a limited time, but many people with disabilities are curtailed in their freedom of movement and access to entertainment on a regular basis, and deserve access to the same tools that the able-bodied are using right now.

With the world falling apart, we all need hope and entertainment more than ever. Cat videos are great, but fairly brief. If you need relief that lasts longer than a thirty second cat gif, check out the cat story bundle for longer lasting relief! But act quickly, because this bundle is only available until April 14.