Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Announcing Chasing the Light: A Benefit Anthology of Speculative Fiction

 Chasing the Light
Once upon a time, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter and award-winning authors David B. Coe and John G. Hartness agreed to mentor a group of rising authors—the Roaring Writers. Chasing the Light—with tales across the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy—is their celebration of success. 


It is also a tribute honoring Melanie Otto (aka Melanie Griffin), one of the founding authors, who died unexpectedly in 2016. Melanie critiqued many of these stories at the Roaring Writers' annual writing retreats, and the authors will never forget Melanie's sparkling eyes and delighted laugh as she found passages she loved in each. With this collection, including stories by Melanie, the Roaring Writers share her light with readers everywhere.

Many thanks to our mentors, David B. CoeFaith Hunter, and John Hartness for all they have done to help us become our best. Thanks to fellow RW Emily Leverett for editing this anthology--she's a terrific editor and expert cat herder! Thanks also to Melissa McArthur Gilbert for the extra polish of proofreading, and to Natania Barron for the beautiful cover.

Thanks to the generosity of their mentors and contributors, all profits from the sales of this anthology will be donated to help Melanie's lifelong partner defray medical and legal costs. 
Remembering Melanie
The first thing I remember about Melanie, always, is her beautiful smile. Her delighted laugh as we shared our love of stories, books, authors, movies, photography, nature, friends, and life. We met at ConCarolinas 2013 in Charlotte, NC. Afterward, she emailed this wonderful summation of the weekend: “Truly, a person never knows what fine folk or fortunate things one might discover coming one's way.” Through email, phone calls, and our eagerly anticipated annual retreats, we shared stories, editing advice, writing goals, travel adventures and dreams, and so much more. I knew from the beginning that Melanie had some serious health issues, and to her chagrin, they often impeded her participation in our retreats and activities. Even so, I could never have been prepared for the shock of losing her so suddenly.
But Melanie hasn’t left the Roaring Writers. If anything, she continues to bring us ever closer together. In honoring her, in sharing our grief together, in committing to this benefit anthology project, we continue to write and grow and learn and succeed together. And I still see Melanie’s beautiful smile, just beyond the light.
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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.
#

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Illogicon Schedule


Illogicon is a great way to start the New year -- and the con season!
Come join the fun in Cary, NC this weekend!
Here's where you'll find me:

Friday, 3pm
Geeky Gateway Drugs – Smith
Have a friend who “doesn’t like sci-fi”? We can help ease them in!
Panelists: Joey Starnes (M), Margaret McGraw, Gray Rinehart, Carol Cowles, John Lapoint

Friday, 7pm

Open Your Own Book: Personal Interests and Storytelling – Smith
They say to “write what you know” or “write what you like,” but it can be hard to weave in your personal interests in your storytelling. Let’s get into it!
Panelists: Margaret McGraw (M), Holly Walrath, Stuart Jaffe, Darin Kennedy, Emily Leverett

Saturday, 12pm
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading – Crescent
Don’t miss the women of the Broad Universe Association in this whirlwind sampler of work!
Hosted by Broad Universe

Saturday, 2pm
MFAs, Workshops, and Writers’ Groups: Which One is For You? – Reynolds
Do you need them and are they right for you?
Panelists: Julie Steinbacher (M), Holly Walrath, John G. Hartness, Ian Muneshwar, Margaret McGraw

Saturday, 6pm

Geeky Rants – Smith
It’s a like a real-life TWEETSTORM full of only the ANGRIEST NERDS. What petty hill would you like to die on today?
Panelists: Chris Shrewsbury (M), Janet S. Planets, Jason Gilbert, Michael G. Williams, Carol Cowles, Darin Kennedy, Margaret S. McGraw

Sunday, 10am
How What We Read for Fun Sculpts Us – Reynolds
“But it’s just a story!” Well, yes and no. How what we consume can shape our ideas–for better or worse
Panelists: Jim McDonald (M), Tera Fulbright , Margaret McGraw, LeAnn Rettell, Stacey Lantagne

Sunday 12pm
Steampunk’d! – Reynolds
Panelists “steampunk” and movies based on audience suggestions!
Panelists: Margaret McGraw (M), Tera Fulbright, Jason Gilbert, Natania Barron, Andrew Greeson

 

Sunday, 1pm

Crowdfunding: Is It Right for Your Project? – Smith
Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites can be huge, but is it right for your project?
Panelists: Alex Matsuo (M), John Hartness, Margaret McGraw, Stacey Lantagne, Suzanne Adair

Sunday, 2pm

Greatness Past 50 – Reynolds
Characters “of a certain age” still have a lot of offer–a discussion of ageism, aging characters, and older characters
Panelists: Samantha Bryant (M), Chris Shrewsbury, Margaret McGraw, Dave Ellis, Gail Martin

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#

Friday, November 17, 2017

AtomaCon Schedule

For the past few years, several friends have told me how much they enjoy AtomaCon in Charleston, SC. I'm delighted to be a guest this year! Here's where you'll find me:

Friday, Nov 17

7:00pm Female representation in books and film. How far have we come?
Nicole Kurtz, Samantha Bryant, Margaret McGraw, Kamika Mattis, Misty Massey, SL Figuhr
Room 3 (Lit Track)

Saturday, Nov 18

10:00am Gods and Humans
A discussion of the popularity of Gods interacting with humans as Portraited (sic) in American Gods, Legion, Percy Jackson, Clash of the Titans, etc.
James McDonald, Margaret McGraw, William Fripp
Room 2 (Fandom/Costuming Track)

7:00pm Diversity and Inclusion in Literature
Samantha Bryant, Margaret McGraw, Kamika Mattis, Nicole Kurtz
Room 3 (Lit Track)

8:00pm Writing for an anthology, series or shared universe
The ins and outs of writing in someone else’s universe
Nicole Kurtz, Margaret McGraw, Misty Massey, Melissa McArthur, Alexandra Christian, John G. Hartness
Room 3 (Lit Track)

9:00pm Falstaff Books Mixer
Stop by the bar, buy a drink and have one on one conversation with the authors, maybe buy a book or two!
Embassy Suites Bar

Sunday, Nov 19

12:00pm Geek Rants
A good-natured discussion about what bugs you about your favorite fandom. From continuity to cancellations.
Jason Gilbert, Chris Shrewsbury, Chuck Carte, Margaret McGraw
Room 2 (Fandom/Costuming Track)

1:00pm The Wild West in a Sci-fi Universe
From Wild, Wild,West, Firefly, West World, and Cowboys Vs Aliens; the Wild West Culture is becoming a staple in the Sci-fi genre.
Margaret McGraw, Misty Massey
Room 3 (Lit Track)

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#




Sunday, October 22, 2017

This stone sparkles

This stone soaks up starlight

Sparkles with silver frost

And feels almost beautiful

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

“The True Feminine”

I am in love with this poem. (I did not write it - link below)


 “The True Feminine”

I am not sugar and spice and everything nice.

I am art.

I am a story.

I am a church bell, gonging out wrongs and rights
and normal nights.

I was baby. I am child. I will be mother.

I don’t mind being considered beautiful,
I do not allow that to be my definition.

I am a rich pie strong with knowledge.

I will not be eaten.

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ


http://www.scarymommy.com/third-grader-poem-feminism-twitter/?utm_source=FBIP

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

DragonCon Schedule (actual)

I'm still unpacking -- literally and figuratively -- from DragonCon. I'll post some notes soon, but here's what my panels looked like -- including a few I attended for fun, like the "Extreme Steampunk Makeover" and the "Wynonna Earp" cast panel.


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

DragonCon Schedule (planned)


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Monday, August 21, 2017

New post on TheMillionWords.Net: Stream-of-Consiousness

Over the years I have found stream-of-consciousness writing to be an excellent tool in my writer's toolbox.

So I talked about it on my latest blog post on TheMillionWords.net




TheMillionWords.net is a shared blog about our journey to become great writers. Join us as we talk about writing advice and our own experiences. 

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Monday, June 26, 2017

New post on TheMillionWords.Net: Exploding the small moments

There are lots of ways to think about descriptive writing. I like the idea of "exploding the small moments"...

So I talked about it on my latest blog post on TheMillionWords.net



TheMillionWords.net is a shared blog about our journey to become great writers. Join us as we talk about writing advice and our own experiences. 

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Book Birthday to Lawless Lands!


(Paperback available next week)


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#

SaveSave

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prompt: City super powers

Boston speaks to me in dreams. Washington is wary, worn out by lies and broken promises. New York has never said a word, but she can be such a bitch--guiding hopes for one and crushing dreams for another. Paris really is the city of love.

Every city has a super power, a spirit imbued by the human lives that built them, live in them, give their last breaths in them.

But they're becoming quiet. Ordinary. They don't speak to me, and I can't feel them any more.

Someone is stealing their souls.

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


#

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Con Report: ConCarolinas 2017 Art of the Short Story

I moderated this panel on Saturday afternoon, with panelists: 
  • Bobby Nash
  • Robert Bevan
  • JD Blackrose (Joelle Riezes)
  • Melissa Gilbert
  • Tonia Brown 
These are mostly my prep notes.

Hemingway said it was no accident that the Gettysburg Address was so short.

Mario Puzo said, "If I'd had longer, this would have been shorter."

Panel Introductions

I asked the audience: are you all writers or readers?
If all readers, we'll talk more about examples of good writing than how to

What do you see as the critical differences between writing short stories vs longer works?

How do you think about short story structure?
  • Plot has a beginning, middle, end
  • Reversals (backstory), recognitions
  • Tension/pacing
  • Setting
  • Characterization
  • Motivation
Strong opening is even more important than for a novel!
Set the tone
Grab the reader and pull them in
Build curiosity

Roberto BolaΓ±o, Chilean author, said "It is best to write short stories three or five at a time. If one has the energy, write them nine or fifteen at a time."
I asked the panelists: Do you write stand alone or related stories? Do you write several at once, or one here and there?

Let's talk about the short story market 
Can you make any money - significant income - with short stories?

Lots of themed anthologies recently:

Magazines like Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and so many more

4-5 or 10 cents a word - not going to get rich, but you *can* get published and get recognition

Look for anthology calls
Examples of great short stories in the genre

Master: Edgar Alan Poe
Gardner Dozois' "The Year's Best science fiction" collections
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon)
Isaac Asimov
Nine Billion Names of GodArthur C Clarke 

Google "speculative fiction short stories" for links to lists

Resources:


Short Story Writing, Charles Raymond Barrett, 1898






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Appearance: ConCarolinas, Fri June 2nd - Sun June 4th

It's one of my favorite weekends of the year! So many friends to see again or meet for the first time. Come join the fun at ConCarolinas! Here's where you'll find me:


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Prompt: If you open the door, you are not the only one who goes through

This is all Robin's fault. "Let's go see a psychic for your birthday," she said.

A pedicure would have been great--a chair massage and pretty toes. And I wouldn’t be standing on this porch staring at the rain and wondering what the hell to do now.

I went to a psychic once at my school's fall festival. There were three generations, and I got stuck with the teen granddaughter. She puzzled over my hand and gave me some generic nonsense. I figured she just didn't know how to fake it well yet.

When Robin and I walked into this psychic's drawing room, she came out in a welcoming swirl of silks and patchouli. As Robin was telling about my birthday, her daughter Nina's custom Hamilton ringtone sounded from her purse. She fished it out, handed the psychic a few bills, excused herself and stepped outside. The psychic turned her attention to me, motioning me through the curtains into her reading room.

"Come now, sit and give me your hands," she said as she waved her fingers in a flourish over the table. But as soon as she touched my hands, she paled. She gripped my palms and stared with widening eyes, then snatched her hands away and jumped up from the table.

Annoyed, I asked, "What are you doing?"

She didn't answer as she picked up a pen and notepad and scribbled something on it. Returning to the table, she sat and  laughed ruefully. "Ordinary has never sat well with you has it?"

I drew back and wrinkled my brow, trying to make sense of all this. What was this act all about?

She tore off the piece of paper from her notepad and slid it across the table. "Go. He will tell you what you need to know." She hesitated. "If you really want to know."

She reached her hand out over mine, then pulled back without touching me. "Because once you do, you can't take it back."

"What do you mean?"

"If you open the door, you are not the only one who goes through."

She jumped up and swept aside the curtains, motioning me to leave. "Now, go. Latcho Drom. Be careful."

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Prompt: The sun doesn't shine here anymore

Carolyn walked along the dusty road, fingers trailing through the still air. She remembered flowers blooming, dogs barking, breezes blowing, sun shining. None of that here. Everything was gray, and still, and there was no sun in the sky, just then even dim light of day after the absolute dark of night.

A tiger swallowtail fluttered close, veered and landed on her outstretched hand. She held it close to her ear, then swept her hand up as it flew away. "Thank you, my friend," she called after it.

A bluejay squawked noisily as it swept across the road into a tree near her. A few more loud cries, then it chased after a crow that flew overhead.

"Yes, I heard, thank you, dear one!"

Further down the road, though how far she could not say, because the road had no beginning and no end, she simply walked its unchanging length every day, she stopped short and squatted like a child. A desicated frog sprawled against the margin. Carolyn touched it with her fingertip, and the stiff body jumped like one of those plastic toys, red and green and blue and yellow…Carolyn touched it again, wondering when she had last seen those colors. She flipped the frog into her palm and stood, bringing it close to her mouth. She blew on it gently, and the frog's body began to plump up, as if she were blowing air into a tiny frog balloon. It quivered, then jumped onto her wrist. She smiled and nodded. "Yes, little one. Go on now," she encouraged it, leaning close to the road as the frog jumped down and hopped away. It stopped and turned to look at her, black eyes unblinking. She waved it on, and as it turned and hopped away, she said in a small wistful voice, "Come and visit me sometimes…"

###

Notes:
The idea for the story was a girl the walking along and a butterfly flies up to your head lands on her and she asked like she's listening to it in and says thank you and then a bird flies up and twitters at her and she responds and then I suddenly had the idea that she is in fact a wraith

The title could be resurrection, but I do not know if I want it to be that obvious

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#

Monday, April 17, 2017

Writers Journey Podcast with John Hartness


While at MystiCon, I sat down with John G. Hartness for an interview on his Writers Journey's Podcast. We chat about upcoming projects like the Lawless Lands anthology, this website, Ed Schubert's terrific analogy of $100 credit from reader to writer, and all sorts of other stuff about writing. And hey, I don't sound like a complete idiot, so that's a plus.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prompt: I'm afraid of ending.

"I'm afraid," I wheezed into the dark room, barely louder than the machines tirelessly pumping air and blood and medicines to keep me alive.
She turned her head, resting her cheek on the sheet next to my hip. She couldn't hold my hand or lie next to me anymore. The slightest pressure tore tissue and broke bones. I pushed my hand closer to her head and slipped my fingers into her hair. That didn't hurt. Much. 
"I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of ending. Being dead. Confined in a box and buried in the earth. Or burned." I shuddered.
She nodded silently, rubbing her head gently against my fingers. 
"I don't know what's going to happen next. I hope my spirit or consciousness will stick around to haunt you, baby girl."
She smiled, a slight twist of the lips that once laughed so freely.
I huffed once and felt the choking threaten deep in my chest. I stilled and focused on even breaths so I wouldn't tear my lungs up any further. 
"But I promise you, whatever I might be after this body dies, I will never. Ever. Want to be in it again."
She did laugh then. And cried. She nestled her head against my hip and closed her eyes, humming the lullabies I used to sing to her every night. 
"Come away with me in the night..."
I closed me eyes and felt her voice on my skin, sliding down my ears. 
I would miss this. Living. 
#


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Appearance: MystiCon, Roanoke, VA, Feb 24-26

Come join the fun at MystiCon! Here's where you'll find me:

Fri 3pm Welcome to the Hellmouth: Buffy’s 20th Birthday
Fri 4pm Weird West
Fri 10pm Fangs for the Memories: Has Vampirism hit its Twilight? (Moderator)
Sat 7pm Author Showcase
Sat 8:30-9:30 Broad Universe RFR
Sun 2pm YA Lit Insanity

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Prompt: Avoiding an ambush

Amber listened for noise over the crow caws and squirrel chatter that echoed through the trees. The trail was faint--there wasn't enough spring grass left this late in the year to draw grazing deer this deep into the forest.

She was expecting to flush an ambush, not to stumble upon one in progress. Men shouting and the dull thumps of fists and boots on flesh, but no steel. Hiding behind an old sycamore, she peered around to see half a dozen men attacking one man, his comrades fallen and unmoving.

Don't get involved, she admonished herself. You don't have time for this. She ducked past and crept through the underbrush, cape snagging on thorns that hadn't held her back until now.

The man cried out, and the heavy thud told her he had fallen. She stabbed her staff into the hard-packed dirt and bowed her head, huffing out a harsh breath.

Dammit.

Whirling, she raced back, the path now clear as she charged into the clearing. The men glanced up and one even laughed before she flicked her fingers and they flew up and back, crashing into the trees behind them.

She stood over their final victim and spun her staff, building a wind tunnel that continued to push them away until they turned and ran. Holding her star high, she looked down to find him staring up at her wide eyes wide.

"You're a Power!" He coughed, left arm clutching his side.

She sighed and reached out a hand, pulling him easily to his feet.

"Come on," she said, disregarding his statement of the obvious. "Let's get out of here before they return. And before dark falls."

Without looking back, she turned back to the faint trail and walked on. After a moment, she heard his faltering steps behind her...

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lawless Lands Kickstarter is funded!

So excited and proud to announce that the Lawless Lands Kickstarter has successfully funded and is still going strong. We have great stretch goals and one more day to go.

We can't wait to bring you this outstanding slate of authors, new and familiar, with all great stories:

  • Dave Beynon
  • Aubrey Campbell
  • Gunnar DeWinter
  • B S Donovan
  • Jo Gerrard
  • Jeffrey Hall
  • Matthew J Hockey
  • Pamela Jeffs
  • Margaret S McGraw

We're all rip-roarin' ready to bring you some fine reading for those long nights on the trail. Saddle up, pilgrims, because the thrills are on the way!

Friday, January 13, 2017

New post on TheMillionWords.Net: I love deadlines…


My new Million Words blog post is available here:

I love deadlines…

http://themillionwords.net/2017/01/12/i-love-deadlines/





TheMillionWords.net is a shared blog about our journey to become great writers. Join us as we talk about writing advice and our own experiences.