Monday, December 1, 2014

NANOWRIMO: The Aftermath and Lessons Learned

Well, NANOWRIMO was not exactly what I'd hoped it would be. As usual, life happened and I was beset by health issues and sick kids.

I did get about 6,000 words into the novel (fantasy) I was writing. I also began a new short story this past month (horror/scifi), and have about 4,000 words, and I will need another 1,000 to finish it off, which I hope to do this week. 

This may be the most I've written in any month. Pretty good for me!

This is only the second time I've attempted NANO. I will not do it again. The reasons are:
  • I learned much of what I needed to learn--for example, yes, I can write every day (at least a little!) for two weeks in a row. (That's where my streak ended when I was sidelined with back and neck pain.)
  • I learned that when you DO write more frequently, it is easier to keep up your enthusiasm, and easier to see yourself improving.
  • I learned that the NANO forums and particularly the Facebook page were a colossal time waste. The messages coming through to the FB page were mostly inane. My local forum was not at all user friendly.
I will continue to write more frequently. I will continue to foster relationships with other serious writers. 

I will get the short story draft done this week, and run it past my critique group. Then, I have a market I may submit it to if it passes muster.

Then back to the novel.

I'll do my best to stay focused, and get these projects done.

And know that life is always going to happen. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Ready for NANOWRIMO

NANOWRIMO, for those of you who don't know, is short for "National Novel Writing Month." That's right--November is reserved for millions of insane people who decide they are going to give up sleep, television, socializing, and other vestiges of humanity for an entire month--all so that they can write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel..

For the math challenged, that is an average of 1,666 words per day.

Of course, even if (and that's a BIG if) I get to 50,000 words by Dec.1, I'll have just that. A big pile of words. You're not supposed to edit as you go, so it will be the draftiest draft that ever was. And December will be the beginning of editing the morass.

I've got to get to outlining (because as usual, I've joined this party late) but for any of you who want to follow my progress, feel free to come here for periodic updates.

I can tell you this:

  • I'll be consuming vast amounts of coffee.
  • I'm writing a contemporary fantasy novel.
  • The working title is Fragments.
  • I plan to get up at 5 am every morning and spend an hour writing (I have to get up 6 am on weekdays for my kids.)
  • Coffee.
  • I plan to judiciously split my time between the paying the job and doing this (instead of letting the paying job creep in and spending more time on it than I need, which often happens.)
  • Giving up evening TV--except for the Walking Dead. Because The Walking Dead.
  • Coffee.
Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I've Updated Links to My Works...

... Because I was missing some stuff. On a related note, I am the worst promoter of myself ever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

People Really Need to Reassess What's Enraging Them

The last two weeks have brought us additional unrest in the Middle East, the tragic suicide of Robin Williams, and unarmed black youth being gunned down in the street.

And the worst offender of all...

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Most of you should be familiar with this by now. I live in Massachusetts, a state where this ridiculous-looking trend really took off. So I was aware of it fairly early on. And I recall thinking, Why are people dumping ice water on heads? and likening it to a less-vile version of the "set yourself on fire" meme.

Several days later, I was passing by the TV, and NECN was covering the local angle. That's how I learned that dumping icy water on your head was more than just a trend--there was a cause behind it.

But curmudgeon that I am, I thought: Sure, people are dumping water on their heads. It's probably not raising any money. As if on cue, the talking heads on the magic TV box addressed that very question. The Ice Bucket Challenge was actually raising money. Donations were up by 200%.

And I was happy to hear that something appearing so idiotic was actually doing some good.

A few more days passed, and I began to see torrents of icy water splashing across my Facebook feed. Then... the unthinkable.

A high school friend nominated me.

Typically, I'm not a fan of trends. Because, you know, they're trendy. But knowing that this was actually raising money to help an incurable disease, I decided to go for it. Pour a large pan of ice-cold water on my head.

To the delight of my children.

During the week that followed, I noticed an interesting trend (at least on my Facebook feed.) The people participating in the Challenge were predominantly "sporty" people--and perhaps this is due, in part, to the fact that the Challenge has a sports-related origin. But I noticed a relative absence of the Challenge occurring among other loosely categorizeable groups. As someone who writes and loves scifi, for example (and has a general penchant for geekery), I noted that my nerdy compadres were staying dry.

And that's when I noticed the backlash.

Some of the "non-sporty" crowd were not only dissing the Challenge (and hey--that's right) but they were doing it vehemently. Angrily. And I found it completely bizarre.

These are some of the arguments against the challenge I came across:

  • "No one's going to tell me what to do!" (Sure.)
  • "It's stupid, and I'll bet donations aren't even affected." (Untrue.)
  • "No one's going to bully me." (Yes. I swear the word "bully" was used. Which really cheapens the word.)
  • "I can choose myself how and where I'm going to donate my money!" (Of course you can. And you know what? There is no ALS police monitoring Facebook to see who has and has not donated $100. Really. No one is going to rip you from your bed in the middle of the night.)
  • "There are more pressing issues and diseases than ALS." (I actually agree. But no one I know has ALS, either. Above, I mentioned several horrible things going on in the world right now. If you feel outraged that people are sending boatloads of cash for ALS research, send your own contribution to your cause of choice.)
  • "It's just another stupid viral campaign that ultimately will have no impact." (Again, I refer you to the facts. It has had a real impact. Granted, some viral marketing campaigns are pretty stupid, and don't have the impact this one has. [I'm looking at you, 'what color is your bra' Breast Cancer campaign. Which I was not a fan of, because of the way it adds to the public perception that breast cancer is a "female" disease.]
  • "I already gave money to this charity. Now I feel like I have to again!" (Um, if you feel that way, that's your choice. No one is "making" you feel anything.)
As I processed the backlash I saw come across my little corner of the Internet, the sporty/nonsporty divide again struck me. Maybe it's the sociology degree, but I couldn't help but view much of this criticism through a lens of high school. It's US versus THEM. If THEY are into something, then it's certainly not for US.

And I thought to myself, just wait until Neil Gaiman or Tom Hiddleston or Felicia Day or some other Geek God/Goddess gets in on this action. Then the tide will turn.

I present to you Exhibit A. And here's Exhibit B.--Nathan Fillion. BECAUSE NATHAN FILLION.

(I would like to point out, for the record, that, I mentioned Joss Whedon in my challenge. But I didn't actually tag him, because I was just being cute. But if he ends yup doing it, I'm still taking credit, y'all.)

So, I get it. We have our own subcultures, and the things we think are cool, partly because they are cool, and partly because other people think they're cool. And if you don't think something is a good idea for any reason, don't do it. But don't be so obnoxious about it. And try to have your facts straight.

And most of all, realize that these things are not zero-sum games. Just because the charity of your choice is not the one in the spotlight, it doesn't mean that the one in the spotlight is unworthy. I suggest turning your outrage into something useful, for something you agree with, instead of spouting anger across the Internet.

In the wise words of my ten-year old daughter, "Don't judge. Just love."

p.s. See how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started here

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading from Pi-Con 2014

A quick post--sharing the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading from Pi-Con 2014, made into a Broad Universe podcast by the fabulous (and 2014 Pi-Con Guest of Awesome) Justine Graykin.

This is a really fabulous sampling from Broad Universe members--including humor, intrigue, fantasy, science fiction and horror. I read two of the poems from Interview with the Faerie Part One: And Other Poems of Darkness and Light at about 10 minutes in.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My 2014 Pi-Con Panel Schedule

Without further ado...


How to be a Good Panelist  Agawam 6pm Susan Hanniford Crowley, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Morven Westfield (M), Michelle Wexelblat
 We’ve all been to panels where things got wildly off-topic or where a panelist or audience member hogged the panel. Sometimes it’s been a lot of fun or extremely interesting. Other times, it’s been aggravating. In this panel, experienced panelists talk about preparing for a panel, participating on a panel, being a good moderator, handling someone who’s obviously aggravating, and how different cons have different styles.
The Same Old Story — Somers 8pm Lisa Evans, Kate Kaynak (M), Misty Pendragon, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
ROUNDTABLE: Vampire teenage romance, fairy tales in modern settings, Star Trek programs that mimic police procedurals and medical response programs (actually being discussed right now) and, coming up, TWO shows (at least) set in OZ. With all of the stories there are in the world and all of history to draw on why do storytellers (and TV producers) keep telling the same stories over and over again? With all of the rehashing of the Civil War we have never had a series about espionage in that period. Given all of the westerns there have been, we have never seen the story of Bass Reeves (a real U.S. Marshal) who captured 30,000 criminals in his lifetime. Given people’s love of pirates, why have we not seen the story of the various pirate queens? Come and discuss what stories need to be told, and maybe find a few that you want to tell yourself.
Feminism: What’s It All About  10am — Agawam Eric, Lisa Evans, Jennifer Pelland, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert (M)
The term “Feminism” has suffered a great deal of abuse. What does it mean and why is it still relevant, and how do we deal with the dissing?
How Do We Make Cons Safe for Everyone?  12pm — Agawam  Lisa Evans, Justine Graykin, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Michelle Wexelblat (M)
Harassment and safety at conventions is not a new topic, but it has been very much in the spotlight for the past couple of years. Many conventions are taking steps to prioritize safety. What are the best ways to make convention attendees safer? Should we be looking at convention polices and enforcement, reporting procedures, or social change on what fans tolerate as acceptable behavior? How do our current strategies work, how could they work better, and who is doing it well?
The Undead and The People Who Love Them  1pm — Suffield  Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Jennifer Pelland, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
ROUNDTABLE: Let’s get down to it and talk about Vampire, Ghouls, Zombies, Ghosts and assorted undead that we love and why do they have such a grip on our hearts. Audience participation is encouraged!
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading — Suffield 7pm Terri Bruce, Ellen Larson, Jennifer Pelland, Jennifer Allis Provost, Roberta Rogow, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Morven Westfield, Trisha Wooldridge, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
These talented writers have six minutes each to blow you away! Broad Universe is an international organization supporting women authors of SF, fantasy and horror. Visit them on Dealer’s Row!
Fiction has no Place in Our Curriculum — Somers 12pm Justine Graykin, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Kristi Petersen Schoonover (M)
The new educational Common Core standards marginalize fiction in favor of non-fiction. What effect is that going to have on the imagination and inspiration of students? Hasn’t SF been traditionally marginalized? Now all of fiction is getting pushed aside.
The Last Two Years in SF/Fantasy Movies — Somers 1pm Lisa Evans, Misty Pendragon (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
Since 7Pi-Con in 2012, we’ve had Gravity, The Hobbit (parts 1 and 2),Ender’s Game, Her, I, Frankenstein, Vampire Academy, Byzantium, RoboCop, Winter’s Tale, Divergent, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Thor:The Dark World, Transcendence, Amazing Spider Man (1 and 2),Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, and Oz The Great and Powerful—just for a representative sampling. What do these films say about our current tastes in SF/F, and where are we going from here?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Some of my Work Has Been Translated and Published in Poland!

Hi All,

Just a quick note that you haven't heard from my blog much because the winter here in New England was awful... and I was sick for most of the winter and into Spring. It has a huge, awful impact on my energy levels and ability to get anything done effectively. But things are looking up, fingers crossed!

On to the good news! Many months ago I was contacted by a representative from the Polish science fiction/fantasy magazine Creatio Fantastica (CF). They'd found my poem The Lies Parents Tell and wanted to know if they could translate it and publish it in their magazine. After some questions to them and research on my part, I said yes!

They translated both The Lies Parents Tell and Interview with the Faerie (Part One.) They also interviewed me about my writing, being a working/writing Mom, and themes in my work--as well as that ubiquitous "voice in my head!" This interview is also featured in the current issue. (I'll post the original English version soon!)

A bit about CF... it currently operates under the auspices of the Laboratory of Literature and Popular Culture and New Media at the Department of Modern Languages, University of Wroclaw, Poland. And the editor and translator I worked with, Margaret Mika, was fabulous! Super professional.

My name is on the cover. Really!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Presidential Statement Regarding the SFWA Bulletin

So, if you're a member of the scifi community/a fan, there's been a kerfluffle about the official bulletin of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). It roughly started here (with the cover and some content within this issue.) Then, two Bulletin columnists defended the cover and added fuel to the fire by making statements such as:

The reason for Barbie’s unbelievable staying power, when every contemporary and wanna-be has fallen by the way-side is, she’s a nice girl. Let the Bratz girls dress like tramps and whores. Barbie never had any of that. Sure, there was a quick buck to be made going that route but it wasn’t for her. Barbie got her college degree, but she never acted as if it was something owed to her, or that Ken ever tried to deny her.

She has always been a role model for young girls, and has remained popular with millions of them throughout their entire lives, because she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should.

I am sorry to say that this and other offensive, sexist, outdated remarks were made in context of how women can be successful writers.

I know. I'll give you a moment for your head to explode.

The continuing brouha has devolved into this. This "petition" has no merit. It invokes the First Amendment, which doesn't even apply in this case. It is so clearly an attempt to capture and freeze the "golden days" of scifi--when the genre was white-male dominant, and women "knew their place." When writers of color and those who wrote non-hetero-normal themes were simply curiosities.

And here is the very restrained, classy response to this non-petition petition by the current SFWA President:

Over the past few days, there has been much public discussion about a non-member’s petition to SFWA regarding oversight of our member publication, the Bulletin.
While this petition has not been formally presented to SFWA, I have seen versions and they express concerns for something that does not and will not exist:
Specifically, the editor of the Bulletin will not have to go to any selection or editorial review board to approve material.
In compliance with the by-laws and the will of our members, there will be regular oversight of the Bulletin to ensure that it is inclusive of and reflects the diversity of all our members, and that it continues to address the changing needs of professional writers.
With all of our publications, SFWA will continue to stand strong for the rights of writers. This includes opposition to censorship.
Finally, I want to thank the Bulletin Task Force for all their hard work on updating the magazine and to all the members of SFWA for their patience while we make the changes that many of you have asked for. I think you’re going to be proud of what we’ve done.
In a perfect world, this would be end the matter. But it won't. Because some people just have to push forth their bullshit. Some people have to apparently take an oppositional position to everything they see.
And some of the authors who have signed their support of this petition are off my reading list.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Some of the Report-Out/Suggestions from My Arisia Panels

If you took my card at Arisia so that you could get the notes and/or book and movie suggestions from my panels, you may have already seen my post that I lost all of my notes due to technical/user error. (Never again will I take notes on my Google Nexus tablet--it's all paper and pen from here on.) 

With the help of some fellow panelists and audience members--and my memory--I'm able to provide SOME of the information I had collected. See below, by panel topic. I'm including panelist names, as they may have information on their blogs that you can refer to.

Read All the Things!
Panelists: Randee Dawn, Greer Gilman, Adam Lipkin (m), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, JoSelle Vanderhooft
The authors that were championed were: Jonathan Carroll, Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, and Roger Zelazny. I championed Octavia Butler. The first works I read of hers were Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. I'd recommend starting there. If you have any questions about other works by Butler, feel free to contact me.

Zombies, More Zombies, and Even More Zombies
Panelists: Gayle BlakeJeanne Cavelos, Gail Z Martin, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert (m), Barbara A Woodward
We talked about:
• The appeal of zombies-- the themes they tend to convey, and how those things connect to our modern world.
• What do zombies represent today?
• Zombie evolution--Shambling vs. sentient; personality or not (i.e. the movie Warm Bodies)
• Variations on the zombie theme (i.e. the Borg)
• Lesser-known zombie works.There were many great suggestions for zombie works, which I've lost. Some are: Dan Shamble PI, Dead Set, Spoiler

Spirituality in Fantasy and Science Fiction
Panelists: Erik Amundsen (m), Max Gladstone, Kate Kaynak, Daniel Jose Older, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
A lot of content came out of this panel. One of the books mentioned was A Canticle for LeibowitzChronicles of Narniaalso the Hyperion series. From my neo-Pagan perspective, I mentioned The Mists of Avalon and The Fifth Sacred Thing as works having influenced my spirituality. An audience member mentioned Dies the Fire.

I wish I could provide more... if any audience members or fellow panelists want to add more in the comments below, please do so!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Update on Report-Out from Arisia Panels...

So, I just posted the below to the Arisia Facebook group...

"Apparently, I saved ALL the notes from my panels incorrectly on my Google Nexus tablet. So, I have NO NOTES to share. I was purposefully taking notes/book-movie suggestions, etc. so that I could share them on my blog.

The panels I was part of were:
* Read All the Things
* Zombies, More Zombies & Even More Zombies
* Spirituality in F/SF
* Fear of Science--On the Rise?
* Get Off My Lawn: Backlash Against Progress in SF

If any of my fellow panelists or audience members have some notes to share, I'd appreciate it!

I'm SO GOING BACK to pen and paper. :-( "

I do have a few notes/things I remember, and I will post those. But I'm hoping to get some more info. from others. UGH! Sorry, and I'm SO mad at myself...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Placeholder for Report-out from Arisia...

Hi y'all! I know a dozen or so of you took my card at Arisia, so that you can access the lists of books/authors, zombie movie suggestions, and other notes from my panels. I promise it's forthcoming! I need to get my work life in order, deal with my kids, and get a writers' group submission in... then I'll be on it!

If you want to receive a notice when that blog post goes up, you can follow my blog and then a notice will go right to your inbox. Otherwise, check back in a week or so!

Thanks for the memories!

<3 Suzanne

In the meantime please accept this picture of my daughter with the Kaylee look-alike.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Some Writerly Announcements and Updates


Headed to the Arisia Conference in Boston today--"New England's Largest and Most Diverse Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference." Hubby and I are taking our kids this year. Hopefully it will work out OK and everyone will have fun!

I have some announces about the conference and some cool announcements related to my writing. If you want to jump down to the announcements, just scroll to the bottom...

First the Arisia announcements...

  • I belong to the group Broad Universe (BU), an international organization promoting women who write genre fiction. We are hosting an open party tonight at 8pm. If you're at the conference, come by and meet me and other 'Broads'! BU will also have a table in the dealers' room where you can find Broads hanging out throughout the weekend.
    BU parties always have THE BEST food!
  • Broad Universe also has an RFR (rapid fire reading) on Saturday at 1pm in the Hale room. These events are lots of fun! Twelve BU members read from their works. It's a great way to hear your favorite authors, and find your next favorite! I'll be reading from Interview with the Faerie to help promote my newly-released book of poetry.

Writing Updates

  • The issue of Creatio Fantastica that some of my work and an interview will appear in is scheduled to be released the last week of January. So, it's coming soon and be sure to check it out!
  • The second big update is that I have started a new novel! And I wrote my first sex scene! The new novel is an urban fantasy romance--not normally what I write. But the idea just struck me, and I've been moderately depressed over the lack of progress of my other WIP, Ownership of the Gods. I will be writing this new novel under a pseudonym. Stay tuned for more information on this!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Arisia 2014 Panel Schedule

Once again, I'll be attending Arisia--a science fiction and geek-culture convention in Boston. I love this con! Every year I am given the honor of being on such diverse and interesting panels. The composition is different every year! In the past, I've had many feminism-related panels. This year, I have none. I do have two science-related panels this year. And another zombie panel! I do love me them zombies :-)

Without further ado...

Read All The Things!

Literature, Panel — 1hr 15min — Faneuil (3W)
Sure, we have limited reading time, but there are some authors whose works clamor to be read in their entirety! Which authors? Come to this panel and find out! Each panelist will discuss the author whose complete works they deem absolutely essential. Come develop your reading list for the next year!

Randee DawnGreer GilmanAdam Lipkin (m), Suzanne Reynolds-AlpertJoSelle Vanderhooft

Zombies, More Zombies, and Even More Zombies

Fan Interest, Panel — 1hr 15min — Douglas (3W)
The past few years have seen a resurgence of zombies in print and media. Why? From The Walking Deadand Zombieland to Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, what's the appeal? Do zombies still represent consumer culture as in Romero's films, or do they mean something different now? Come join the discussion on the origins and portrayals of zombies.
Gayle BlakeJeanne CavelosGail Z MartinSuzanne Reynolds-Alpert (m), Barbara A Woodward

Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading

Writing, Reading — 1hr 30min — Hale (3W)
Broad Universe is an international organization of women and men dedicated to celebrating and promoting the work of women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Come hear samples from the works of several members of the Broad Universe organization.
Terri BruceKelly HashwayRachel KenleyEllen LarsonCatherine LundoffGail Z MartinKT Pinto,Jennifer Allis ProvostSuzanne Reynolds-AlpertRoberta RogowConnie WilkinsTrisha Wooldridge,Phoebe Wray

Spirituality in Fantasy and Science Fiction

 Literature, Panel — 1hr 15min — Faneuil (3W)
The Chronicles of Narnia are famous for, among other things, incorporating many of C.S. Lewis's Christian beliefs. But did it inspire its readers to be more religious? Are there fans of fantasy and science fiction who look to their favorite works in times of crisis or to inspire their faith (or, possibly, lack there of)? What works of literature have people in fandom, whether Christian, Wiccan, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, agnostic, or none (or all) of the above, found formative to their beliefs?
Erik Amundsen (m), Max GladstoneKate KaynakDaniel José OlderSuzanne Reynolds-Alpert

Fear of Science—On the Rise?

Science, Panel — 1hr 15min — Alcott (3W)
Why do people fear science? What is this fear doing to our society? Is this fear on the rise, or has it always been around? And what, if anything, can be done to quell this fear?
Carl FinkAbby HaferRichard Moore (m), Suzanne Reynolds-AlpertAlexandra Thorn

Get Off My Lawn: Backlash Against Progress in SFF

Literature, Panel — 1hr 15min — Adams (3W)
Over the past few years, we've seen many a kerfuffle in genre that amounts to "you kids get off of my lawn". There are some who seem wedded to the SF/F they grew up with to the point of excluding anything or anyone new and progressive—which seems antithetical to the whole concept of science fiction! We'll discuss progress in genre and the backlash against it.
Mark L AmidonLila GarrottJames NicollDaniel José Older (m), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert