Image of Jupiter from a moon's mountain range

Post-Convention Thoughts and Reimagining

quotes and lessons from MileHiCon 50, a literary speculative fiction convention

Image of Jupiter from a moon's mountain range
The gas giant Jupiter from a moon (artist’s rendering) © AlexAntropov86

Modeling the World in Fiction

There’s a quality of fiction that’s modeling–that’s showing a model of the world.

Author Paolo Bacigalupi said this last Friday during a panel discussion. His line is one of the best things I heard at the convention. That’s one of my favorite uses of fiction: the modeling.

The World of Horror

Bacigalupi shared a showcase slot with another author, Lawrence Watt-Evans, a former president of the Horror Writers Association (HWA). He explained that Horror has gone through cycles since the late 17th century. The “Horror” genre label developed in the 1970s.

Do you remember when I was trying to figure out if I write horror stories?

We’re calling it Dark Fantasy now. Because people don’t know they don’t like that.

I really should’ve asked Watt-Evans more questions about what counts as a dark fantasy while I had the chance. Since that opportunity has past–Do you agree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments about the Dark Fantasy and Horror connection.

Imagining Fiction for the World

There’s a question I repeatedly asked myself at last weekend’s convention: Why am I not sitting on panels?

I can often answer audience questions. I’ve been watching the publishing world that long. (I mainly attend panels anymore to see interesting authors talk, not as much to hear what they say.)

Of course knowing how to answer questions isn’t enough. My uninspiring author’s bio is a problem. (Uninspiring? It’s depressing.)

Where do I see myself…?

MileHiCon (ten years ago?) was the first big literary event I’d seen. One of my writing dreams since that first experience has been to sit on an authors’ discussion panel. I imagine sitting at the table with professionals, facing a room full of people willing to listen to our thoughts about storytelling. Someone else is the moderator in this dream, so I’m only responsible for playing the part of a new panelist.

With the type of luck woven into my life, I’m fairly certain that first time would have its nightmare moments. A fellow panelist might pick a fight, an audience member could interrupt every few minutes, an emergency can divert everyone into defensive mode, or anything of the kind would happen. I would gratefully accept the risks.

How does imagination become reality?

How? I’ve decided to try harder to sit on an author’s panel at an upcoming MileHiCon or another worthwhile event.

I need credentials in publishing or a related subject. Why should anyone care what I say? (Why do you?) For credentials, I need more experience.

Related to the need for more authorial experience, I have reconsidered setting aside a short story I love, one that’s been cycling through readers and rewrites for too long. I’m publishing that short story under my Blacklyn byline.

Upcoming eBook Release

“Grotesquery” is a melancholy fantasy about a wizard, a grotesque stone guardian, and their medieval-fort city. The story is also social commentary about today’s world, though that might only be my interpretation.

My goals in publishing this short ebook are (1) learn more about Amazon Kindle Direct to test out features I might need for longer works, if self-publishing, and (2) share this fantasy story with more people.

Please help spread the word to any readers who might like literary short fantasy.

Thank you for being a reader of Shadows in Mind.

Tufted ducks lifting off from golden water

Tweeting Again -and- Oh, Horror!

Tweeting Again

I can give ❤️s again!

Twitter emailed me an apology for the inconvenience of locking me out of then restricting my account. The email confirmed that an automated system is charged with removing spam accounts. “[I]t looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.”

I’m grateful to stop waiting for an answer.

Oh, Horror!

More than a week ago, I asked, “What is the story when frightening and disgusting the readers is the intention to create another mood?”

I don’t have an answer to that yet. The question arose from my curiosity about Horror. I’ve created an interview questionnaire for Horror writers. My intention was to better understand their perception of the genre. However, I don’t yet have the guts to approach potential interviewees.

Turns out, I’m kind of scared of people who openly admit to horrifying readers on purpose. I might be afraid to learn I’m one of them.

Website Updates

Visitors–Do you like the new background color? It’s more blue than the previous gray. I’ve also started changes to Shadows in Mind front page, which will continue through this week.

Thanks for keeping up with me.

2018 Winner of Camp NaNoWriMo header

Goodbye, Camp NaNoWriMo 2018

2018 Winner of Camp NaNoWriMo header

When I posted “NaNoWriMo 2018: Late to Camp“, we were already in the second week of July. I’d committed to a new project and no cabin for encouragement. Feeling alone and behind schedule makes for an intimidating start.

Fortunately, Camp is far more relaxed than the big NaNoWriMo challenge in November. A few people joined me in a new cabin. They helped me commit to my goal.

Woot! says the cabin’s mascot

Fifty (50) pages. Rewrite / Rework and polish several short stories to make them ready again for market submissions.

✅ Grot: 20 pages (Queer Historical Fantasy)
✅ OneL: 4 pages (L/L Sci-Fantasy)
✅ Bloo: 6 pages (Dark Contemporary)
✅ Fami: 4 pages (Science Fantasy)
✅ Conn: 8 pages (Urban Fantasy)
⭕ Vamp: 8 out ~10 pages (Dark Fantasy)

The checks are for finished stories. I also wrote at least one new story from scratch, with characters I hadn’t worked on before. The most recent newcomer to my story files is flash fantasy.

My virtual backpack is full of the thousands of new and polished sentences collected this month. I want to thank all the Scribes for Queer Stories members for helping me focus. You three gave me a reason to log on and encouragement in the story that’s the hardest for me to finish.

Horror Lesson during Camp

A setting #ThursdayAesthetic for one of my Camp stories

Genre labels are hard! When works fit into multiple sub-genres, choosing which one feels the most accurate can take a few tries. I changed the genres of several stories through the month.

One of the lessons I’ve learned this month is that recognizing a horror story is a unique challenge. In most literary categories, a general consensus determines the categories’ boundaries. As a genre of emotion, the responsibility for choosing the Horror label is placed on the author. What was the author’s intention?

I wrote in “Hands Writing Ire” that “I’m not sure I can understand the writer whose primary goal is to frighten or disgust readers.” Now I’m not sure that wanting to disturb readers “encourage new thoughts and feelings” is significantly different.

What is the story when frightening and disgusting the readers is the intention to create another mood?

Let’s talk about that next week. I’ll gather published opinions during the wait.

campfire in a woods

Pans in the Fire, Hands Writing Ire

campfire in a woods
© sagarkphotography

Where’s the line between Horror and Dark Fantasy?

The question bothered me earlier this week. Is my classification of darker works appropriate?

I’ve always heard the Horror genre defined by the author’s intentions, along the lines of “Horror is anything meant to scare the reader.” That makes sense, though it’s strange to acknowledge that I don’t ever write horror stories. No matter how dark or gruesome my fiction gets, my intention is to convey ideas and present character.

Turns out, I think like a speculative fiction writer, not a writer of horror. Disturbing readers is a way to encourage new thoughts and feelings.

I’m not sure I can understand the writer whose primary goal is to frighten or disgust readers. That’s even with maybe living with one.

Whine and Brag

I’m reworking five short stories for my Camp NaNoWriMo project. The longest is complete. My cabin is small, but guess who’s leading it? Yeah, I am.

The group is really relaxed. I’m a touch worried about disappearing on them at the end like what happened last year, but they can get on without me if that were to happen.

Another temporary lead I’ve taken is for a short story contest in the SFFWorld Writing forums. That’s low-maintenance, too. Writers responded to my prompt! The best time to push for enthusiasm might be in the middle of August.

Images: Vampire, city street, a bloodshot eye, and a campfire. Text:
Today’s #ThursdayAesthetic for the theme of “Antagonist”

The work-in-progress at this time for Camp NaNoWriMo is also my entry to the contest.

What Else is Cooking

I’m waiting to hear back on six story submissions. One of them is to the final issue of the speculative fiction magazine Shimmer. By the way, that Shimmer issue will be out November 2018, with an anthology to be released in late 2018.

In the moments when reading is easier, I’m making my way through Stephen King’s revision of Gunslinger.