Mischief Managed

About once a year, I drive myself entirely crazy by working on a costume for a few weeks. Usually, it’s for the Maryland RennFest and this year was no exception. My D&D DM and good friend Moira and I decided to do adapted version of characters from the D&D livestream Critical Role. Moira took on the ambitious design of the lavender-skinned Tiefling Blood Hunter, Mollymauk, and I made the reticent blue-skinned Tiefling Clreric, Jester. We decided NOT to do body paint for a day at Faire because we don’t hate ourselves.

There are some things I wish I’d done differently, but after 7 hours of hand painting that dress, I’m pretty content with how everything turned out.


Capclave News

Another Capclave has come and gone! This year, I moderated a panel called The Care and Feeding of Critique Groups (I’ve never moderated anything before, so I was pretty nervous beforehand!), taught a workshop on Micro Fiction with my friends/partners in crime, met up with Neil Clarke (for whom I read slush) and Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies (with whom I talked shop), and received an award from a writing contest.

I placed third in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society‘s Amateur Writing Contest for my short story, “Augury.” I’m so grateful for the input of Columbia Writers with an earlier draft of this story, as many of their suggestions are what really helped shape this piece into its final form. Writing groups can really make such a great difference in our work! I’m biased, but I swear by them.

Flash Fiction Tables

Let’s write some flash fiction! I’ve created three tables below and I want you to roll a 10 sided die (here’s an online d10 dice roller – enter 3 in the How many times box) three times to get the building blocks of your story. The first table is characters, the second is character traits, and the third is a situation. Let’s see what you can do!

Length: up to 500 words

Post your story here in the comments or on your own blog or space and link back to this post if you don’t mind.

1. Talking parrot
2. Long-haul trucker
3. Hacker
4. Haute couture designer
5. Pastry chef
6. ER nurse
7. Television star
8. Retiree
9. College athlete
10. Police officer


1. Has a limp
2. Is an anarchist
3. Has a heart of gold
4. Works for the government
5. Dreams of being an artist
6. Is sick of her job
7. Is crabby
8. Feels lonely
9. Is cocksure
10. Has been through a trauma


1. Wins the lottery
2. Finds a new job
3. Goes to the beach
4. Injures himself
5. Gets a pet
6. Has too many drinks
7. Meets a ghost
8. Receives an unwanted phone call
9. Gets lost
10. Gets arrested

Aaaaaaaand it’s Off!

I just sent my manuscript off to my developmental editor and, y’all, I don’t know what to do with myself all of a sudden. I just completed a second, quick pass of the thing and managed to cut over 3,000 words, many of them unnecessary adverbs, some of them whole paragraphs that weren’t pulling their weight. This six month sprint to rewrite my novel has eaten up so much of my time and energy since March that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not be digging into the project nearly every day. What will I do with myself with all of this newfound free time?

Well, that’s a lie. I’m still just about as busy as ever. This month, I’m teaching a query letters 101 workshop for the writers’ group I run, celebrating the end of the Novel in Six Months project with said group, sewing a costume for the Maryland RennFest, and attending Capclave, where I’ll learn if I placed in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Amatuer Writing Contest (all I know is that I’m a finalist, whatever that means exactly) and where I’ll be teaching a micro fiction workshop with friends. I’m also gaming or running tabletop RPGs basically every week, sometimes multiple games in a week.

I’m so confused by not having the stress of the rewrite on my shoulders that I actually couldn’t fall asleep last night. I was up until 3am doing beta reading for a friend because it felt weird and wrong being released from this aggressive time crunch I’ve been under for the past six months. My brain really has no idea how to sit still and just be (I’m working on this with mindfulness and meditation, but boy howdy is that a slow journey). I’ll suddenly have my lunch time at work back so instead of eating at my desk and editing, I can take walks or run errands or do something other than bolt down food over my keyboard.

I haven’t decided how I’m going to celebrate this milestone yet. Any suggestions? What would you do if you finished something big like this?

First Drafts

Here’s the thing about finished first drafts: they’re generally not very good.

It’s okay if you didn’t bleed out the very best prose that you, as an artist, have to offer; if you had, I think we’d all be pretty shocked. Here’s a great blog post from Chuck Wendig on first drafts, called Your First Draft Does Not Require Your Faith In It. Pounding out that first go at your book /blog post/essay/research paper, etc took a lot of work, to be sure, but now you’re at where theĀ real work begins: revisions.

You need that shitty first draft, my friends. You need it for many reasons, but here is my favorite: you cannot improve upon a thing that does not yet exist. How can you have a great second, third, or fourth draft if you never even got that first one off the ground? You can’t. So even a Not Very Good finished first draft is a thousand times better than one that lies fallow indefinitely.

Finish that first draft, my friends. Finish it, and then really get ready to shape it into what it was always meant to be.