Wednesday, September 21, 2016

S.A. Larsen Cover Reveal - Motley Education

Today I'd like to present S.A. Larsen's Motley Education cover reveal!


Title: Motley Education (Book One: The URD Saga)
Author: S.A. Larsen
Release Date: October 10, 2016


Forget having a lively after school social life, Ebony Charmed is fighting to keep the entire Afterlife alive.

Ebony’s less-than-average spirit tracking abilities are ruining more than sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically & Celestially gifted. Her parents argue so much her dad moved out. And, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go, Ebony wouldn’t survive without her best friend, Fleishman.

When Ebony’s Deadly Creatures & Relics’ project goes missing, she learns her missing project is one of the keys to saving the spirit world. Now Ebony and Fleishman must battle beasts from Norse Mythology to retrieve her project before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of reuniting her family. But someone lies in wait, and he has other plans...including creating a new world of spirits without them in it.


Motley Education has been aligned with Core Standards for grades 4-7. A guide will be available on the author’s website to download for FREE after the book’s release date.


About S.A. Larsen

S.A. LARSEN is the author of Motley Education, the first book in a middle grade fantasy-adventure series. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Look for her debut young adult novel, Marked Beauty, set for release in 2017. Find her in the land of lobsters, snowy winters, and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty years, four children, a playful pooch, and two kittens.

You can visit her online at www.salarsenbooks.com.

Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram and connect with her on her Website & Blog.



Rafflecopter Giveaway Code
Five lucky winners will each receive a signed bookmark and assorted swag! Contest runs from 09/15/16 to 09/23/16. Winners will be chosen my random.com.

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Direct link to giveaway: http://bit.ly/2bZyLVj

What do you think? It raises interesting questions, doesn't it?  

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's Baby Moo and Julie, Too! (& Links)

Today, I'm featuring Julie Flanders and her new book Baby Moo's Great Escape. If you've been by Julie's blog, you know she cares deeply about animals and works to bring attention to ways to help them. Now she's taken that love and put out her first children's book.

Without further ado, here's Baby Moo! (Man, I keep rhyming.)


Baby Moo has a dream. He wants to travel the world and sing on the stage of the Sydney Opera House! While he loves his home at Sunrise Sanctuary, it hasn’t been the same since a piglet named Nathan showed up and stole all the attention away from Moo. Jealous of the new baby, Moo decides now is the time to make his escape and pursue his dream.

But the world outside the sanctuary gates is not quite the fun and exciting place Moo imagined, and he quickly finds himself in big trouble. Moo's friends Missy the dog and Ruthie the cat rush to help him, and land in some trouble of their own.

Lost and frightened, Moo and his friends must rely on each other to find their way back home. Will they ever see Sunrise again?

Release date: September 8, 2016 from Native Ink Press

Links:


Julie Flanders will donate $1 to Sunrise Sanctuary, home to Baby Moo and numerous other rescued animals, for each copy sold in September. 

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Now for some links! Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing any of these links, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

The Patchwork Raven is open for submissions of children's bedtime stories aimed at kids 3-9. Pays $25. Deadline September 30.

The Fantasist is open for novellas. They have a whole big list of stuff they like, so I'm going to leave it up to them, but fantasy and YA, in general, though YA is not required. 15,000-40,000 words. Pays $50. Deadline September 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for stories matching the theme Best Mom Ever! Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline September 30.

Karen Walker is putting together an anthology called Still Me After All These Years. She's looking for contributors age 50 and over. I don't believe this will be paid, which I usually wouldn't share, but this is a passion project for her, so I agreed to share, anyway. Deadline September 30.

The Last Line is open for flash and short fiction ending with the line "It was hard to accept that from now on everyone would look at her differently." 300-5000 words. Pays $20-40. Deadline October 1.

Robert N. Stephenson is looking for submissions of speculative fiction for the anthology The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Vol II. 4500-10,000 words. Pays AUD$100. Deadline October 15.

Disquieted Dreams Press is seeking body horror short stories for the anthology In Our Bodies. 2000-5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 15.

Helios is looking for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Theme for the December issue is RE_ACTED, and they're looking for stories that explore the dark side of human progression. 500-1500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline October 15.

Blog Hops:

The October theme for the Write Edit Publish blog hop/challenge is Constellations. Up to 1000 words. Post October 19.

Of Interest:

I thought this was interesting and helpful: Beta Reader Etiquette.

Sounds cute, doesn't it? And isn't it awesome she's donating money to Sunrise Sanctuary for all September purchases? What do you think of Baby Moo? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? Publishing or submission news?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Horror List Book Review: Needful Things

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them.

This week I'm reviewing Needful Things, by Stephen King.


I thought I'd read this already, and then I found it on my unread books shelf (yes, I have one of those...doesn't everyone?) and realized I never had. I decided to read it, not realizing it was on this list, so yay!

This novel is about a small town (Castle Rock, which has featured in other stories, like Cujo, The Dead Zone, and The Body (Stand By Me)), and a man who shows up, opening up a mysterious shop called Needful Things. He gives everyone their most secret desires, but he exacts a price, ultimately causing the town to degrade into disturbing violence. It's amazing what people will do out of greed for their desires.

The main characters are the sheriff and his girlfriend, a local seamstress. She has horrific arthritis and is in constant pain. They're also the only ones to be able to see through Leland Gaunt's--owner of Needful Things--friendly veneer. 

The first we see violence in the book, a plan come to fruition for Gaunt, it's two women tearing each other apart, literally, in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. This is after several awful things have occurred to each woman, attributed to the other woman. Muddied sheets, rocks through windows, and a dead dog.

If you can't stand violence against animals and children, this is not the book for you. Stephen King pulls no punches (does he ever?). No one is safe in this book, not puppies, not cats, not birds, not children. Fair warning.

As always, King gets to the base of each character. He intricately weaves the lives of the townspeople together, hinting at, and eventually telling about, past sins. For a small town, they sure have big secrets.

Once the violence really gets going, it's an insane maelstrom of greed, rage, envy, you name it. In fact, I'd say all of the cardinal sins are covered. And for the most part, the breakdown in civilization in the town of Castle Rock is built up just right, so the violence makes some odd sort of sense. You can see why it happened, anyway.

The people being blamed (and attacked) for committing various evil deeds are not the people actually doing those. The plot is carefully set up, with a bunch of disconnected actions ultimately coming together and making sense as you read on. 

As a bonus, there are references to other King novels set in the town, with a character returning from The Body (I won't tell you who, but you'll know when he shows up). If you've seen the film, you'll know why I kept looking for the line, "I killed my wife. Is that wrong?" Yeah, it's not in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, even though the animal and child deaths bothered me. It's a slow (not boring) buildup to an explosive ending. 

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Needful Things (Stephen King)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
10. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
11. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
12. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
13. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
14. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
15. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
16. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
17. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
18. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
19. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
20. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
21. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
22. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
23. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
24. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
25. World War Z (Max Brooks)
26. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
27. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
28. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
29. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
30. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
31. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
32. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
33. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

Have you read Needful Things? Where do you rank it among King novels? What did you think of the buildup? What would your weakness be in terms of desires Gaunt could take advantage of?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cover Reveal: Timeless, by Crystal Collier

Crystal Collier, she of the author feature where they give two truths and a lie, is releasing her new novel, Timeless, in November. You can't read it yet, but here's a preview of her cover!


Timeless is a YA Paranormal Historical novel, the third in her Maiden of Time series.

Time is the enemy.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil, and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

Timeless will be released by Raybourne Publishing November 1, 2016.

If you're eager to jump in, the first two books, Moonless and Soulless can be purchased HERE.

Crystal is running a giveaway. Enter to win!

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What do you think? It's a gorgeous cover, isn't it? Have you read the first two novel in the series? Have you played two truths and a lie on Crystal's blog?

May you find your Muse.



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG - Self-Doubt, Stats, & Links

It's the first Wednesday of September, which makes it time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by the one and only Alex J. Cavanaugh.


The purpose of the IWSG is for writers to share their doubts and fears, while offering support to their fellow writers. We post the first Wednesday of each month. Anyone is welcome to join by going HERE.

This month's co-hosts are C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman,Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata! Stop by and visit them, and be sure to thank them for hosting.

Let's see...insecurities. I realized the other day that I was avoiding working on my novels. At this point, I've become somewhat comfortable in the short story world. I have my process down. I enjoy writing short stories. But I've got all these ideas for novels, too, plus one needing to be finished, one needing to be edited, and another needing some major rewrites. I haven't worked on them much over the last few months. It took me this long to see it was nerves for various reasons. Part of it is that I feel like if I sell a novel I won't have time for the short stories anymore. And then I'll be sucked into the constant marketing, working on the next novel, etc. The thing is, that's where I aim to be, but I fear I won't like it, and I hate to lose the short stories, because I have too much fun with them. I wonder if I can balance the two once I get past the writing stage.

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Before I jump into links, it's time for my August stats. 

Note: These are all short story submissions.

8 submissions
6 rejections
2 short listed
10 currently on submission

No acceptances or new publications this month. 

#

Link time! Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these links, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting. Note: I got behind on these, so some close pretty soon. I'll try to get caught back up this month so that they're a month out.

Accepting Submissions:

Apt is open for essays, poetry, comics, and longer short works of between 10,000 and 15,000 words. Pays $50 and contributor's copy. Reading window closes September 15.

Meerkat Press has an open call out for short fiction for their anthology Behind the Mask. Superhero themed. 3000 to 6000 words. Pays $.02-.08/word. Deadline September 15. 

Farolight Publishing is taking submissions for Horror Library. 2000 to 6000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline September 15. 

Splickety Publishing Group is accepting submissions for Splickety Prime with the theme Christmas in Crisis. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline September 23.

The Letters Page is accepting essays, fiction, travelogues, poems, and tons more. It needs to be in the form of a letter. Must be mailed, not electronically submitted. Pays £100. Deadline September 25. 

Pentimento is open for submissions for their winter issue. Essays and fiction concerning disability. Up to 6000 words. Pays $25-250. Deadline September 30.

The Nashville Review is open for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25-100. Deadline September 30.

Recompose is open for short prose and poetry that combines speculative fiction with literary fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline September 30.

Enchanted Conversation is accepting fairy tale inspired prose and poems. 700 to 3000 words. Pays $10-30. Deadline September 30.

Contests:

Brilliant Flash Fiction has a flash contest with the prompt "It came in the mail." There's also an image prompt. 500 word limit. 50 euro first prize. Deadline September 15.  

Concis is holding Pith of Prose & Poem Contest. Up to 200 words. Cash prizes, plus postcards with your work on them. No entry fee. Deadline September 15. 

What are your insecurities? Have you found a good way to balance novels with shorter works? Have you submitted anything this month? How did it go? Any publishing news? Any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Horror List Book Review: The Witches

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them.

This week I'm reviewing The Witches, by Roald Dahl. 


This is one of two Middle Grade books on the list, the other being Coraline, which I've already reviewed. So my review will be pretty simple. 

The Witches was a good scary book for kids. At the very beginning, it introduces witches as real things in a convincing way, saying they look normal, rather than scary. Then it tells the child reader the teacher reading to them is probably a witch. It sets up a scare and casts doubt on the adult reading the book to them. Seems like a good way to give kids a thrill.

I imagine many of you already know the story, whether from the book or the movie. A young boy's grandmother tells him about witches, warning him of signs to look out for. They go on a trip together, and he ends up in a room full of witches, who hate children and can smell them wherever they are. He's caught and turned into a mouse, leading to his grandmother and him taking on a mission to destroy the witches and stop their evil plans.

Though it's a children's book, there are solid scare tactics and writing tricks employed that make it worth a quick read (and it IS a quick read) for horror authors. The story and details are basic, as you would expect, but it's entertaining.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
10. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
11. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
12. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
13. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
14. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
15. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
16. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
17. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
18. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
19. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
20. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
21. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
22. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
23. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
24. World War Z (Max Brooks)
25. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
26. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
27. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
28. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
29. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
30. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
31. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
32. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

The next book I review will be Needful Things, by Stephen King.

Have you read Roald Dahl books? Which is your favorite? Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you read it as an adult or a kid? Did you read it to your kids (or better yet, students)?

May you find your Muse.


Monday, August 29, 2016

World Con Wrap Up - The Big Empty

I attended my first Worldcon last week (aka MidAmeriCon II). It was in Kansas City, MO, an interesting little big town. Or so it felt in the area the convention center was in. We were surrounded by big, tall buildings and pricey restaurants, but there was hardly any traffic. I suspect this had something to do with the buses and street cars. Still, those exist in Denver, and there's still tons of traffic. Kansas City was a pleasant place to be, and perfect for the Con. And as it was only nine hours away, a group of us drove out instead of flying.

You guys know I attend a few conferences and conventions, and that I tend to come back from them on a big, exhilarated high. Not so much this time. Before we get to that, though, I'd like to talk about the good. How about a Top Ten (in no particular order)?

10. Quality programming. I'd been told you don't go to Worldcon for the programming, but for the networking. (More about that later). However, the programming was solid, as far as I was concerned. I will likely never attend another Con that is so short story friendly. Usually, as a female horror short story author, I'm in the mega minority, and I sometimes have trouble finding panels I'm truly interested in, but there were so many great short story panels, each involving various editors, such as Neil Clarke, Jason Sizemore, Sheila Williams, Jonathan Strahan, and the amazing Ellen Datlow (long-time fan of her anthologies), as well as a couple short story authors. Again, I doubt I will ever see all these editors, people who have rejected my stories (hahaha - okay, only two of the above editors have rejected me), all in one place like this again. John Joseph Adams was also there (I've certainly been rejected by Nightmare), but I didn't see him on any panels. A mutual friend introduced us out in the hall Friday, I think it was.

9. Yummy food. We went to Jack Stack for BBQ, which came highly recommended by locals. We had a large party, so we got a semi-private room with sliding doors (super fun to open and close them with flair...ask me how I know.) Other restaurants we ate at (and enjoyed, though service wasn't always great) were The Flying Saucer, The Yard House, and Cosentino's, which is actually a grocery store, but had tasty, convenient food. And dessert! That was the only night we got dessert. It wasn't a big thing around there.



8. Astronauts! Admittedly, I haven't outgrown thinking astronauts are cool. I attended a talk given by Jeanette Epps, a NASA engineer. She talked about the training they go through, and had a fun slideshow with all kinds of photos from it.

7. Attending a George R.R. Martin reading. He read a snippet from Dances With Dragons, a not-yet-published prequel to the Game of Thrones series. How often does one get that opportunity?

6. Finding a book I'm in at one of the dealer's tables. Fun surprise! It was Once Upon a Scream. I have since been informed that I should have offered to sign the books they had on hand. My mistake is your lesson! Always offer to sign a book if you happen across it. I heard this from both authors and a bookseller. And an editor! So just do it. Apparently, it doesn't make you a narcissist, even if it feels like it does.



5. Friend time. I got to spend time with friends, some of whom I don't see very often, and made a few new ones. And I was lucky enough to share my hotel room with a friend it's always fun to travel with, to enjoy some pre-event wine a couple times, and to have a night in, where we skipped the bar and just chatted and read. This was incredibly valuable downtime in a busy week. And a shared bottle of wine in a hotel room with a good friend will beat Bar Con any day.

4. Attending the Hugo Awards was a cool experience, and one each speculative fiction author should have the opportunity to do at least once. Pat Cadigan was a phenomenal hostess, quite funny and personable, and she kept things rolling right along, with the help of her minion.




3. I got to briefly meet fellow blogger John Wiswell of the Bathroom Monologues. It's always pleasant to finally meet in person someone you have spoken to online for awhile, even if it is just posts back and forth. He was preparing for a panel, so I just said a quick hello, got a hug, and left him to his prep.

2. Huh. I've run out. A Top Eight it is then.

1. Phlbbbbt.

As you can see, there were a lot of positives. So why did I leave feeling drained and emptied instead of inspired?

Well, let's discuss networking. We writers are an introverted bunch. When a couple friends told me that Worldcon was amazing, that I simply HAD to go, and that they knew people they'd introduce me to, including several editors relevant to my career, I had high hopes. I prepared myself in advance to suck it up and talk to people I didn't know. I can do that. It's never a bad thing to meet more people who work in your field.

If you've been to writer's conferences and conventions, you know that most of the action is at night at Bar Con. This is where the published and unpublished gather together in one loud, crazy bundle of networking. You mingle, you meet, you talk, you laugh, you drink.

The first night, most of our party skipped Bar Con. I had gotten less than 90 minutes of sleep before riding in a car for 9 hours. It was late. Everyone was cranky. So my roommate and I headed up to bed.

The next night, we had that awesome BBQ mentioned above, and then we went to the bar. The Con Bar was at the Marriott, so we headed on over.

And here's where the negative begins.

The bar was packed both nights we went. We initially kind of huddled over on the edges. The first night, the friends we'd come with who were familiar with these people were out in the middle of it, mingling. It was a struggle to try to talk to the writers filling the room. In fact, other than people I already knew, I didn't meet new writers that night, and certainly no editors. The only ones we ended up having real, substantive discussions with were readers who were attending the Con, not other writers. My roommate and I left with a bad taste in our mouths that night, but we thought perhaps things would change next time.

We skipped the bar the next night, which ended up being one of our better nights (see above). But on the night of the Hugos, we hit the bar with everyone else afterward, dressed to the nines. I went to the bar determined it would be different this time. I was dressed up. My hair was done. I was wearing makeup. I could do this. I was wearing a girl mask.

I saw an acquaintance talking to a group of men (the VAST majority of people in the bar both times were men), and I walked over to say hi to him, and introduced myself to the others standing there. They shook my hand, introduced themselves, briefly spoke in my general direction, then promptly turned their talk inward again (my acquaintance had been summoned by someone else, and had turned to talk to them). This time, the discussion became all about their female characters, and how WELL and FAIR they were writing these characters. They weren't talking to me, but around me. No one would meet my eyes after the initial introduction. In fact, two of them didn't even meet my eyes then.

I took the hint and wandered away.

This happened again. I can't tell you what it took each time to walk up and try to talk to these people. But I could rarely even get eye contact. And they kept trying to convince me, without actually talking to ME, that they were writing strong female characters. Okay?? Good? Glad to hear it. I don't care. I'm not the Female Character Police. This is not the only thing we women want to talk about, if at all.

I was approached several times by other women who were doing the same thing I was. They were great to talk to, and we had real conversations. I watched these other women circling the outskirts of the room, trying to meet people, trying to introduce themselves, and not really being let in. It should be noted that two well known female authors were there at the first bar night, and they were also on the outskirts most of the time, which I found bizarre. I mean, they were already a part of this crowd, right? Respected, I would think. About halfway through my time there, they found each other and stood there talking together for the rest of the night. So it wasn't just us no namers facing this. Otherwise, I'd say our problem was that we weren't people who could help others climb. I'm sure that was a part of it.

Ultimately, the night ended well, with me settled in with my friends, and several other people stopping by to talk. Once I gave up on being part of this particular writing community, I was able to relax for the most part. It was the first night that original group of friends was really all together and just hanging out, and it was a pleasant change and a comfortable place to be.



I intended to write this recap post last Monday, the day after I arrived home from MidAmeriCon II, but I just sat there at the laptop trying to work through how I felt about this trip. Empty. That's all I could feel. I felt empty. Cored. Cleaned out. The more I thought about it, the more disappointed I became. The more upset I got. So I gave up. I didn't want to say something negative about something so big in the speculative fiction community. I didn't want to jump the gun and say something I'd regret. I didn't want to be ostracized by not taking part in the love fest that was Facebook for the attendees after the fact. I scanned people's posts to see if anyone felt the way I did, but I didn't find anything.

I had to have been wrong, right? This was the very same community that awarded most of the awards that Saturday night to women. I had to be misconstruing it. It had to be my lack of ability to mingle, to network. My introverted nature working against me. Only...I have never felt this way at other conventions. Not even other speculative fiction conventions. Not even at Denver Comic Con, where I did not have most of my usual "support group" of friends, and where I hardly knew anyone at all. I may not have felt like I was in the middle of everything there, but I also didn't feel like I was facing a wall of backs, which is how I felt for most of Worldcon Bar Con. (It should be noted that I didn't feel this way in the actual convention.)

To be clear, I am not someone who instantly leaps to "It's because I'm a woman!" That is not my default. In fact, it didn't even cross my mind on Day 1. It could be that there were two completely different dynamics at play between Day 1 and Day 2. However, the things I've mentioned here, and the things I have chosen not to mention, indicated gender being at least a portion of the issue on Day 2.

There's also the fact that I've since spoken to a couple of my female friends who were there, and they said they felt the same. I definitely can't speak for all the women there, and I'm sure there were women who had a high old time and didn't feel this way at all. But several of us did. I found this tremendously ironic, considering the amount of lip service paid to women in the industry, both on the panels and in the amazing sweep that occurred in the awards.

Maybe we took it wrong, and I'm sure no one in that room would want it to have been that way, that if they were hearing this from a female friend, they would be aghast. But there's still work to do if even the female authors who are known and have been nominated for Hugos are outsiders.

A couple bad nights at the bar is minor in the scheme of things, but this was an experience I haven't had before, and one that has made me look to the future with a new sense of dread. Is this what I have to look forward to? What does it take to be worth talking to at Worldcon as a female author? Did I need to butch up my confidence level? I've been in the business world. I've worked for my share of misogynists, but I hadn't been made to feel this way by my community, the writing community, until now.

Now I'm faced with hotel, food, and gas bills to pay off for something that left me hurting and unsure about the writing community. And a great sense of emptiness and dejection. In the meantime, I get to keep reading about what a great Con it was for my male friends who were there, and how many fantastic connections they made. I didn't write a word last week, because I was emotionally exhausted from my five days in Kansas City. I'm coming back around, and finally got some writing done last night. My experience was a disappointment, but I'm sure it was just a fluke. There has to be another explanation. Maybe it was just me.

Either way, I failed miserably at this networking thing, and I need to examine that and figure out what I could have done differently, and how to do it going forward. I have spent the last couple years stretching well outside my personal comfort level, and I have felt good about that until now.

Having said all this, I can't blame anyone for my experience except for me. I built it up too high, had expectations that were unrealistic, and I'm sure I could have tried harder and stretched further beyond my own comfort level. Lesson learned. And next time I'll offer to sign the books. ;)

Did you go to Worldcon? How was your experience? Have you ever attended a writing event that left you feeling like an outsider? How did you deal with it? What tips and tricks do you have for networking?

May you find your Muse.

*Photos taken by myself and Patrick Hester.