Virtual Philcon 2020

Next weekend I’ll be participating in Virtual Philcon 2020. While there’s a lot to miss about in-person cons, one plus side of Philcon being online this year: you can attend for free! (Though if you’re willing and able, they do ask for a donation in lieu of membership fees.)

Here’s my schedule:


Reading
Friday, November 20, 8:30 pm EST

I’ll probably be reading a couple flash pieces for this one.


Panel: Heinlein’s Third Rule of Writing
Saturday, November 21, 10:00 am EST

“You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.” How useful is this advice? Why do some people swear by it, and others swear that the best thing you can do is ignore it?


Panel: How Many Different Modes of Editing Are There?
Sunday, November 22, 11:30 am EST

Checking for mistakes in grammar or spelling is one obvious focus of editing your work; looking at potential problems with pacing and plot-holes another. But what about edit passes for tone, and examining how your word choices and sentence structures impact the feel of a scene? Or the value of doing a draft that looks solely at removing anything unnecessary?

Since I’ve been gone…

Is this thing on?

*blows dust off blog*

*coughs uncontrollably*

Yeah, so it’s been a while. W’sup?

Me, I’ve spent the last . . .

*checks date of last post*

*falls out of chair*

*picks self back up*

Three years, huh? Okay, since October 2017 . . .

I wrote only a small handful of short stories. More on that in a sec.

I sold some short stories, and I had some short stories published. Yay!

I finally finished the steampunk fantasy novel I began back in . . .

*checks notes*

*falls out of chair again*

*decides to just stay here on the floor*

2015, huh? Well, there’s a reason it took so long, and that reason is short stories. They are fun and shiny and I kept getting distracted by them. But probably around the same time I fell off the blogging map, I decided to give the novel my full focus so I could actually finish the darn thing. The result: I actually finished the darn thing. Go figure.

Short stories did happen, but as a breather between novel drafts. And more are happening now that I’ve moved on to the oh-so-fun agent querying part of the novel process.

That brings us to the present. November 2020. Which is, um . . .

Yeah, I’m just going to leave it at writerly things for now or else I might lose my desire to resurrect this blog. Please scream inside your hearts.

Where’s the blog?

Wow, that actual posting to the blog thing lasted long, huh?

I’m at least posting elsewhere this month, that elsewhere being Speculative Chic, where today I chime in on their weekly My Favorite Things column. Among other favorite things you’ll have to click the link to read about, I discuss People of Earth, which you all should be watching!

I also babbled there last week in a roundtable post on Our Scary Stories, in which this hard-to-scare person confesses to screaming during a haunted house visit in Niagara Falls.

And later this week, I should have a post there on the intersections of horror and comedy. Because that’s how I roll around Halloween. Or, you know, any time of year really.

Shiny Publication Roundup!

What is this? A second blog post in a matter of days?

So, shiny things. Story sales! Story publications! Some of these got pimped on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been crap about mentioning them here. Let me correct that:

New stories! I had two horror flash stories published back in March: “The Girl Who’s Going to Survive Your Horror Movie” in Flash Fiction Online and “Seen and Not Heard” in DarkFuse Magazine.

Reprints! It’s been a good year for those so far. “43 Responses to ‘In Memory of Dr. Alexandra Nako'” was reprinted in the anthology Funny Horror, alongside some authors I’m thrilled to be in the company of. In the podcast department, “What the Blood Bog Takes” and “Notes on a Page” were both featured in episodes of Far Fetched Fables, while “A Red One Cannot See” was included in Gallery of Curiosities.

And sales! Notably of two stories that I had an absolute blast writing: “The Stork and the Crone” will be appearing in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores in the near future, and “Seer’s Salad” will be in a future episode of the Cast of Wonders podcast. And continuing the reprint trend, “The Holy Spear” will be appearing in Digital Fiction Publishing‘s Killing It Softly 2, an anthology focused on women in horror.

Oh, and almost forgot: plays! I’ve written a few short ones, and last month I got to see one produced for the first time. “Ghost Writer to the Dead” (adapted from a short story I had published in Penumbra in 2012) was featured in a local community theater’s short play festival.

Did I mention it’s been a good year for horror and reprints? Because it’s been a good year for horror and reprints, with a smattering of fantasy thrown in there.

Now back to the writing of new stuff!

The State of the Barb: Priorities, Y’all

So, this blogging thing? Kind of hasn’t happened a whole lot recently. But usually, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Usually, it’s the result of keeping my priorities in order. If I have precious little spare time and it comes down to a choice between writing a blog post or getting in more fiction writing time, the fiction is going to win. Usually.

Unfortunately, the last two months have not been usual. My priorities got out of whack, and writing time was reduced to pathetic little spurts. I have the super fancy word tracking spreadsheet to serve as a visual reminder of said patheticness.

groot tracker
The light blue-ish lines = my yearly word count goal. The darker blue-ish lines = me and my quickly stalled out progress toward said goal. But, hey, shiny spreadsheet tool courtesy of http://svenjaliv.com!

I started out 2017 on the productive side of the Force, writing several thousand words each month. Two new short stories! More progress on my steampunk novel! Multiple writing retreats where I got to do nothing but write all day and chat with awesome people!

But as you can see in the above image, things stalled out after April. I wrote for only 4 days in May, 227 words total. In June I got whopping 6 days of writing in, 439 words total—and over half of those words were today, the last day of the month. And because of the reality distortion field that is Facebook, there were sales and publications that made it look I was being all writerly and productive when I really wasn’t.

The lack of productivity wasn’t because of some major life shakeup. It was because (a) I have a long history of being terrible at saying “no” to things, (b) for every thing I do actually say “no” to, I tend to say “yes” to two other things, like some sort of overcommitted hydra, and (c) out of an overdeveloped sense of responsibility/loyalty, I was sticking with things that stressed me out or that I was no longer enjoying. And all that shit adds up after a while.

In other words, writing wasn’t getting done because of priorities that really shouldn’t be priorities, or at least shouldn’t be bigger priorities than being a writer. You know, the thing I’ve wanted to be since the second grade.

Self-reflection is great and all, but ultimately pointless if you don’t do anything about what you see. So recently, I’ve cut back on some things that were stressing me out. Yes, there are new things (like finally taking the dive into contributing to the Speculative Chic blog, which you all should check out), but new things are good if they’re things you’re excited about and have been wanting to do but couldn’t because of the stress-inducing things. New things keep life interesting.

But most importantly, I successfully applied butt to chair this morning and wrote fiction. And even though it’s been three weeks since I last did that, it wasn’t painful. I enjoyed it. I’ve missed it. It’s a priority again, damn it.

Okay, so you could ask: given all that, why the hell are you sitting there writing a blog post instead of getting more fiction done? That’s easy:

  1. Accountability. If a writer self-reflects in the woods and no one sees, did she really self-reflect?
  2. I got some fiction writing in today. It felt good. I’m therefore allowed to unwind before bed. This post is very unwindy for me. More fiction will happen tomorrow.
  3. This blog is among the things I’ve neglected because of questionable priorities. It’s time I gave it some love.
  4. Did I mention that accountability thing? Keep me honest, y’all.

2016 Philcon Schedule

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I’m going to be at Philcon next weekend (Nov. 18-20), and there’s a shiny programming schedule posted on their site now to prove it!


Stepping Over the Bechdel Test
Sat 3:00 PM in Plaza III (Three)
Barbara A. Barnett (mod), Victoria Janssen, L Hunter Cassells, Anthony Dobranski, Sally Wiener Grotta

“Two women who talk to each other about something besides a man” was intended to be literally the lowest bar you could set for decent female representation in a story, and yet many authors seem to have taken this metric as the sole requirement for being considered feminist. Let’s talk about the myriad of ways we can do a better job of writing female individuals and female groups.


Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Readings
Sat 4:00 PM in Executive Suite 623
April Grey (mod), Elizabeth Crowens, Elektra Hammond, Roberta Rogow, Barbara A. Barnett, D.L. Carter

A group reading by members of Broad Universe, an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women.


Giving and Receiving Criticism
Sun 11:00 AM in Plaza II (Two)
Oz Drummond (mod), James Chambers, Andi O’Connor, Barbara A. Barnett, Ken Altabef, Brian Koscienski

What’s the difference between constructive and destructive criticism? What should a new writer listen to and learn from, either in a workshop critique, or in an editorial rejection? What kind of advice is actually helpful, and how does the framing of feedback impact what an author takes away from it?

Philcon Schedule

Hot on the heels of a shenanigans-filled weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, I now have me a schedule for this year’s Philcon. I’m particularly excited to get both a solo reading and a chance to geek out about Muppets.


MUPPETS! MUPPETS! MUPPETS!
Sat 10:00 AM in Plaza II (1 hour)
[Panelists: Suzanne Rosin (mod), Michael McAfee, Christine Norris, Barbara A. Barnett, Alyce Wilson, Matt Black]

Created in 1955, these characters have been in our lives on various TV shows and movies. Now they are back in a new “sitcom”. Chat with panelists about your favorite muppets, and their shows. Was it Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Rigel in Farscape, Dinosaurs, The Muppet Show, the movies, the YouTube videos? Bring your coffee, wear your pjs, and have a good time.


BROAD UNIVERSE RAPID FIRE READINGS
Sat 1:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Barbara A. Barnett, April Grey, Sally Wiener Grotta, Elektra Hammond, Anne E. Johnson, Gail Z. Martin, Christie Meierz, Roberta Rogow

A group reading by members of Broad Universe, an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women.


SOLO READING
Sat 5:30 PM in Executive Suite 623 (½ hour)

At which I will read…something. Maybe a short story, maybe an excerpt from my current novel-in-progress. I’ll make up my mind eventually!


HOW TO SELL YOUR FICTION
Sun 1:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)
[Panelists: Hildy Silverman (mod), Alex Shvartsman, Barbara A. Barnett, Neil Clarke, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Robert E. Waters]

So you have finally finished a story. What are the main markets? Who do you want to avoid?


WHY WRITE HORROR FOR CHILDREN?
Sun 2:00 PM in Plaza V (1 hour)
[Panelists: Diane Weinstein (mod), Anne E. Johnson, Barbara A. Barnett]

A panel discussing the value of scary stories and how reading about fighting monsters can prepare young minds for facing conflicts in the real world.