Over Spring Break, I did a strategy SWOT analysis on my own writing career. My classmates wisely laughed when I told them.
Then, because I’m a nerd, I developed some key performance indicators (KPIs) for my writing career. I haven’t told my classmates that yet, but I’m sure they’d get a kick out of it too. Hey, I mean it when I say I enjoy making spreadsheets.
I completed 3 new story drafts (2 of which are super short) and brought one to my writer’s group for initial critiques, because the stars aligned and enabled me to attend for the first time in months.
I booked my flights for WorldCon this August!
I also got tickets to an event next month celebrating the life and legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin. I’ve idolized her since high school.
I’ve been researching the link between empathy and fiction, specifically how it applies to a business setting. I’ll be posting the results of my research shortly.
Not related to writing, but last month I attended an event featuring tables decorated for an “around the world” theme. My mom put together one to represent Ecuador! I lent her some of the things my dad has brought me over the years from his trips visiting relatives or that I purchased myself, plus we printed a few of my photos from the last time I tagged along with him and brought my husband. I think the table turned out lovely and authentic. Here are a few photos:
I’ve officially sold a horror story, due to come out this fall! People sometimes do a double-take when they hear I write horror. I guess I don’t put off some sort of expected vibe, whatever that may be. I’ll admit I was a skittish child, although I was raised by choice on a steady diet of dark animation.
As far as my exposure to creepy and twisted literature, I can still remember one of my sisters telling me about the classic story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. She spoke about it spoiler-free, but its impression upon her, complete with shudders and wincing, intrigued me. I had to seek it out. Reading it made quite an impression on me, a radical departure from my sheltered reading list as a sixth grader! When this same sister told me about Roald Dahl’s adult short stories a few years later, I immediately got a collection from the library. I’ve never forgotten how haunting some of those works are.
Then came Edgar Allan Poe. A high school English teacher read us some of his works in October—and it’s no wonder that as an adult I decorate my living and dining rooms for Halloween every year in Poe themed décor. In college I read “The Fall of the House of Usher” right before I went on a Halloween flashlight tour of the nearby Winchester Mystery House, which made the outing extra memorable.
Fall is such a perfect time for horror, so keep your eye out later this year for the horror anthology Nothing’s Sacred Vol. 4. My story “My Little Sugar Plum” will be included.
It’s been a while since I’ve focused on my poetry. Although most of my writing is fiction, the main track I studied as an undergrad English major with a Creative Writing emphasis, believe it or not, was poetry.
So when I heard about the series Civilized Beasts, volumes of poetry to support wildlife, a cause near and dear to my heart, I knew I wanted to be involved. The piece I wrote and sent in for Civilized BeastsVolume III was accepted!
A fun twist on this publication is that my bio will be in the form of verse. Keep an eye out for more details.
My oldest sister’s family has been visiting from San Diego, and it’s been a real treat having them here for Christmas! It actually snowed a bit on Christmas Eve and stuck, so they lucked into a rare white Christmas for these parts. We had fun singing carols while my mom plays the piano, decorating gingerbread houses, and going out to play laser tag. For Christmas my parents gave me a copy of Kij Johnson’s story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, which they had her sign for me at a reading that I sadly missed because it conflicted with one of my classes.
Now I’ve been taking advantage of my school break to do some writerly things, including editing some of my stories and continuing to beta read a novel for a friend. Earlier today a different friend introduced me to fellow speculative fiction writer Elizabeth Beechwood, founder of the Washington County Writers Forum, and a fun person to meet. I’m looking forward to the second half of 2018, when I’ll graduate and finally have time to go to more writing events on a regular basis.
This morning my family went on the Cinnamon Bear Cruise, a Portland holiday event that celebrates an adventure through the magical world of Maybeland. After the magician’s performance, one of my sons asked me if there might be such a thing as real magic.
As a fantasy writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about magic: magic systems, their rules, sources of it, good ways to reveal it. Fiction writers of all genres specialize in immersing the reader in a created world so convincing, it feels real. The senses are triggered. Emotions are conjured. Characters who do not exist elicit responses often more intense than those to the people we encounter every day. Effectively, it is sleight of hand (of mind?).
As for my son’s question, I wanted to answer him truthfully and leave the door open to wonder. I crouched to his eye level and said, “Maybe that magician just knows some really good trickery.” Rather like my favorite writers.
October is usually my favorite month, but this year it’s been brutal for me for a variety of reasons. Oh well, I’m determined to finish it up on a good note. Tomorrow is Halloween, after all.
And there’s been plenty to enjoy. Taking my kids to the pumpkin patch is always one of my favorite parts of fall. Then earlier this month, on Friday the 13th, my husband and I double-dated with one of my best friends from high school and her husband by trying our luck in an escape room. I’ve been wanting to do one ever since I first heard about them. It was great fun, although the room we picked only has about a 35% success rate, and I’m sorry to report we did not help increase that percentage.
I also made progress on a story rewrite.
And finally, I bought huge bags of Halloween candy during my lunch break today. Way more than we’re likely to give out. Which means, leftovers! Muahaha…
My MBA program places a huge emphasis on team projects, and I’d like to share one recent team experience that took place in my local Powell’s bookstore. We met up and essentially created a bonding exercise on the spot.
Here’s how it works: Each team member picks a different aisle at random and has 10 minutes to find 2 books whose title reveals something about yourself. Then, if there’s still time, find a copy of your favorite book (from any aisle) to share as well. When time’s up, all come back together and sit down to discuss your selections. It’s a literary get-to-know-you exercise applied in a team setting to establish a dynamic of trust!
My team took photos of our chosen book covers and talked about them over coffee (or in my case, a cookie). Earlier, when it came to picking an aisle, my eyes fell upon Young Adult / Star Wars & Pop Culture.
Other team members picked aisles like Self-Help and Western Religions.
Yesterday I was fortunate to get a big conference commitment out of the way early in the schedule, plus we had a rather long lunch break. A coworker and I booked it over to Jackson Square, which was lovely (and extremely hot, with no shade cover). We walked through the St. Louis Cathedral, a different style than the one I went to in Buenos Aires but lovely as well.
The Mississippi River was right nearby, with large ships passing each other. Later on in the evening I saw a bit of Fulton Street.
Tonight I’m going on a flashlight cemetery tour! Then tomorrow I fly home. It’s been a great adventure these past couple of months, but I’m looking forward to getting back to a routine and spending a lot more time with my family.
Yesterday I took a swamp boat tour and got to see some American alligators in their natural habitat!
Now, I have loved crocodilians ever since I was a Zoo Teen volunteer at the Oregon Zoo, so a highlight for me was getting to hold this little cutie (I was assured the tape on his snout doesn’t hurt him):
That evening I saw some jazz on Bourbon Street.
Then earlier today during a conference break I took a streetcar out to the Garden District and walked through the lovely neighborhood.
I ended up in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
I finished up the day with a beignet.
Tomorrow I’ll be very busy with conference happenings. That’s it for now!