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.

Shades of Memory

cropped-sunsetheader.jpg

Once upon a bright Californian desert, I lived in fear of the sun.

That fear might have been inspired by an incident with a seat buckle when I was a toddler. Back then, car seats exposed more metal than what’s allowed today. I don’t remember the incident but know I witnessed my sister burn on her seat that heated in the desert sunlight coming in on her side of the car. The babysitter said she screamed and screamed. The burn left a permanent scar on my sister and (maybe) emotional ones on me.

I’m not sure I liked direct sunlight or heat before that. My parents insisted that I stay out in the sun on decks and beaches long enough for my skin to burn, and I remember wanting to stay inside. I do believe the incident in the car intensified my fears.

We moved north to green woods and valleys deepened by whitewater rivers. My family complained of the overcast skies that lasted for months. I explored the cool shadows of the forests.

Sure, animals that could eat me lived in the shadows, too. I knew to avoid routines while outside during the dawn or dusk, those glorious times between night and day when shadows filled with rainbow colors. Those were hunting times. I hunted for beauty.

I’ve known since early childhood how to avoid dangers where the light is dimmer. Don’t look like prey. Feel for each step. Know the difference between a baby oak and poison oak–I mean, know what’s actually dangerous. These are important lessons for living in the shadows.

foggy mountain rang at dusk

In my twenties, I learned to live in cities. The human to non-human ratio is higher in urban environments than it is in the country. Most of the dangerous predators are of the same species as their prey. Construction interferes with routes as much as weather does. Toxins are everywhere in higher doses than one finds in an old-growth forest.

Shade can take on new meanings* with greater exposure to human cultures. Shadows are cast by the people who attract the most notice.

As a writer, I like to take the places and types of characters hidden behind stereotypes. They’re buried in history. They’re too alien/unfamiliar. The characters aren’t the typical age or gender, or they’ve blurred the lines between heroes and villains. I blend the light and the dark. That looks familiar to me.

These days, I also try to fill shadows with rainbows.

That’s what I’d needed when I was younger.


* Just Wanna Share: “Throwing Shade”

What is the correct usage of ‘throwing shade’?” on Stack Exchange